LGBTQ+ community given a portentous boost as Pope Francis reiterates support for same-sex unions
— 2 minute read — by Derry Salter
Earlier this week, clips from a new documentary titled “Francesco” were released documenting Pope Francis saying that homosexual people “have a right to a family”. The short video premiered at the Rome Film Festival depicts Pope Francis expressing his support for civil partnerships, arguing that the LGTBQ+ community too are “children of God”. This is a momentous change for the Catholic Church and a significant moment for the gay rights movement.
The Church has historically refused to accept same-sex relationships, with Catholic believers even being forbidden from supporting same-sex couples. Pope Francis, whose papacy began in 2013, has attempted to bring the Church’s doctrine in line with twenty-first century ideas.
This statement has affirmed the gay community’s rightness to be part of the Church. Many members of the praised the Pope’s comments, with Reverend James Martin arguing that “the Pope’s speaking positively about civil unions also sends a strong message to places where the church has opposed such laws”. This will evidently create tensions in countries where homosexuality is deemed illegal, with the Pope’s messages indicating that rejection by Catholic parents can harm a child’s faith. This is not the first time that Pope Francis has advocated for the support of civil unions, in 2013 reportedly asking “who am I to judge gay people?” and arguing in 2016 that the Church should apologise to the LGBTQ+ community for the way they have been rejected.
Despite being a significant triumph for the LGBTQ+ community, these comments have proved to be controversial and consequential for the Catholic Church. The deep-rooted historical rejection of same-sex couples clearly still has its grip on certain parts of the religion with prominent members voicing their disapproval of Pope Francis’s comments. Arturo Bastes, retired Bishop of the Philippines, stated that he has “very serious doubts about the moral correctness” of the comments. Bastes was supported by the president of CatholicVote, Brian Burch, who said that Pope Francis has “no ability to change that teaching about the permanence and exclusivity of marriage”. Despite the Vatican distinctly accepting same-sex relationships, it is clear that the rest of the Catholic Church have yet to follow suit.