NY Times: Pope Francis, in shift for church, voices support for same-sex civil unions

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Pope Francis, who since the beginning of his pontificate has taken a more tolerant tone toward homosexuality, appeared to break with the position of the Roman Catholic Church by supporting civil unions for same-sex couples, according to remarks Francis made in a new documentary that debuted in Rome on Wednesday.

Speaking about pastoral outreach and care for people who identified as LGBT, Francis directly addresses the issue of civil unions in the film.

“What we have to create is a civil union law. That way they are legally covered,” Francis said amid remarks in which he otherwise reiterated his support for gay people as children of God. “I stood up for that.”

It was not immediately clear when Francis made those remarks, but Evgeny Afineevsky, the director of the documentary, ‘‘Francesco,’’ said that Francis made the remarks directly to him for the film.

Church teaching considers homosexual acts “intrinsically disordered” and the church is opposed to gay marriage. The church has also opposed civil union legislation, and Pope Benedict XVI, Francis’ predecessor, once wrote, “The Church teaches that respect for homosexual persons cannot lead in any way to approval of homosexual behavior or to legal recognition of homosexual unions.”

Matteo Bruni, a spokesman for the Vatican, declined to comment until he had seen the movies and the pope’s remarks.

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