In a newly released documentary that debuted during the Rome Film Festival, Pope Francis made a statement supporting same-sex civil unions, the first pontiff to take that stance.
“Homosexual people have the right to be in a family. They are children of God,” Francis said in one of his sit-down interviews for the film called “Francesco.” He went on to say “You can't kick someone out of a family, nor make their life miserable for this. What we have to have is a civil union law; that way they are legally covered.”
Patrick Ambrosio, a leader in the San Diego gay and catholic community, said hearing this news feels like a step in the right direction.
“In my Catholic faith, I’ve had a lot of struggles. I’m still blessed to know I still have a lot of support from my fellow catholics that are still supporting openly gay people like myself after all these year,” said Ambrosio.
While the statement is a first and could create change in some parts of the world, Kevin Eckery, spokesperson for the Catholic Diocese of San Diego, said it won’t change anything in California.
“Marriage is two different aspects. You’ve got the legal aspect which is we’ve got a marriage license from the state of California. And the religious aspect,” said Eckery.
The Pope’s message addressed civil unions, not the sacrament of marriage, which has to be between a man and a woman. This will not change. Eckery added that the Pope has a history of making comments of support toward the gay community, so this is nothing new.
“Nothing is changing about sacramental marriage and marriage within the Church. It’s just his way of reflecting on the laws surrounding marriage and the dignity of the individual,” said Eckery.
For Ambrosio, it might not be a direct change locally, but it’s a step in the right direction. He hopes same-sex couples will someday be able to participate in the sacrament of marriage.
“Seeing this on the news today is such a great exposé for the civil liberty, the civil union because it’s the first step to getting to that stage,” said Ambrosio.