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“Homosexuals have a right to be a part of the family.”

Pope Francis has publicly called for the creation of civil union laws for same-sex couples.

In new documentary Francesco, which premiered in Rome on Wednesday, the Catholic leader – whose views concerning the LGBTQ+ community have been wildly inconsistent over the years – said same-sex couples should be “legally covered”.

According to the Catholic News Agency, Francis told filmmaker Evgeny Afineevsky that we “have to create a civil union law” and that “homosexuals have a right to be a part of the family,” adding: “I stood up for that.”

“They’re children of God and have a right to a family,” he continued. “Nobody should be thrown out, or be made miserable because of it.”

Rev. James Martin, a staunch Jesuit who has actively campaigned for the church to welcome more LGBTQ+ members, told The Washington Post that it’s “the first time as pope he’s making such a clear statement.”

“I think it’s a big step forward,” he explained. “In the past, even civil unions were frowned upon in many quarters of the church. He is putting his weight behind legal recognition of same-sex civil unions.”

David Gibson, director of Fordham University’s Center on Religion and Culture, also praised his comments, saying: “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.”

Earlier this month, Italian publication Avvenire revealed that the pope told parents during a meeting with the Tenda di Gionata that their LGBTQ+ children were loved by God and the church. 

“God loves your children as they are,” he reportedly said. “The church loves your children as they are because they are the children of God.”

Back in 2018, Francis came under fire after shooting down the idea of LGBTQ+ people within the clergy, stating: “The issue of homosexuality is a very serious issue that must be adequately discerned from the beginning with the candidates.”

The following year, the pontiff requested to meet with Rev. James Martin to have an open discussion about LGBTQ+ catholics. Martin described the meeting as “consoling, inspiring and encouraging.” 

With his stance on the LGBTQ+ community switching between supportive to homophobic, we can only wait to see where the pope and his views will go next.