A documentary released in Rome on Wednesday shows Pope Francis calling for the passage of civil union laws for same-sex couples. This constitutes a major departure from the Vatican’s traditional dogma.
The remarks came in “Francesco,” a documentary on the life and ministry of Pope Francis which was screened at the Rome Film Festival, and will premier in North America on Sunday.
“Homosexuals have a right to be a part of the family. They’re children of God and have a right to a family. Nobody should be thrown out, or be made miserable because of it,” Pope Francis says in the film. “What we have to create is a civil union law. That way they are legally covered I stood up for that.”
Last week, Rabbi Benny Lau, head of the 929 project and former rabbi of the Ramban community in Jerusalem, published a controversial opinion piece noting that of all the acts of creation, the Torah says only loneliness is “not good.” Lau wrote, among other things, that hiding one’s sexual orientation and entering family life when there is no sexual attraction is wrong: “Even if a person with a clear inclination towards his peers chooses to try and maintain a family framework of man and woman, it is their duty to inform their spouse of their sexual orientation.”
Lau added: “If contact or attraction to members of the opposite sex causes complete rejection, it is forbidden to try and build a normal family. This would be a serious injury to the person with whom we enter into an alliance.”
The film about the Pope addresses his pastoral outreach to those who identify as LGBT, including a story of the pontiff encouraging two Italian men in a same-sex relationship to raise their children in their parish church, which, one of the men said, was greatly beneficial to his children.
“He didn’t mention what was his opinion on my family. Probably he’s following the doctrine on this point,” the man said while praising the pope for a disposition and attitude of welcome and encouragement.
In his 2013 book “On Heaven and Earth,” Pope Francis said that laws “assimilating” homosexual relationships to marriage is “an anthropological regression,” and expressed concern that if same-sex couples “are given adoption rights, there could be affected children. Every person needs a male father and a female mother that can help them shape their identity.”
Rabbi Lau addresses the issue of surrogacy and bringing up children in his article, writing: “The halacha does not prohibit members of the LGBT community from raising children and building a family. Nor does parental ability characterize parents from one community or another. The members of the community can build a common cell of partnership and responsibility, and their children would be part of the normal community in which they live.”