'major step forward'
Pope Francis has reportedly backed civil unions for same-sex couples in a "major step" for the Catholic Church.
The pope in a documentary that premiered on Wednesday at the Rome Film Festival expressed support for creating "a civil union law" for same-sex couples so that "they are legally covered," Catholic News Agency reported.
"Homosexuals have a right to be a part of the family," Francis reportedly says in the film Francesco. "They're children of God and have a right to a family. Nobody should be thrown out, or be made miserable because of it."
The pope also reportedly says in the documentary, "What we have to create is a civil union law. That way they are legally covered."
This, Catholic News Agency noted, was a significant departure from the Vatican's stance on the issue and from the position of Francis' predecessors. The remarks were confirmed by The Associated Press, which noted that Francis had supported civil unions for same-sex couples as archbishop of Buenos Aires but had never done so as pope.
Jesuit priest and America Magazine editor James Martin praised the pope's remarks, describing them as "a major step forward in the church's support for LGBTQ people."
David Gibson, director of Fordham University's Center on Religion and Culture, also told The Washington Post, "This is huge. Looking behind all this, he's basically saying, again, we're not out here to be culture warriors. We're not out here to pick fights. We are out here to build up the family."