Pope Francis has previously expressed support for LGBTQ people
Pope Francis
Pope Francis
| Credit: Andrew Medichini/AP/Shutterstock

Pope Francis has declared his support for the civil unions of same-sex couples, a progressive stance that breaks with the official teaching of the Catholic Church.

The pope, who has publicly expressed acceptance of gay people in past remarks, said in a new documentary called Francesco that all people should “have a right to a family,” the New York Times and Washington Post reported.

“What we have to create is a civil union law. That way they are legally covered,” he said, according to the Times. “I stood up for that.”

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

Though it remains unclear just when the pope made the comments, Francesco director Evgeny Afineevsky told the Times that the words were spoken directly to him.

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The church’s official stance is that homosexual acts are “intrinsically disordered,” according to the Times, though Pope Francis has strayed from that since assuming the papacy in 2013.

That same year, he made headlines when he expressed support for the LGBTQ community.

“If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge?” he said, according to the BBC. “The problem is not having this orientation. We must be brothers.”

At the time, the Gay Catholic Voice Ireland group said that the pope’s comments marked the first time that the existence of gay people was accepted as a recognizable part of the Catholic Church community, The Irish Times reported.

“This is a significant development from previous papal announcements, which have usually referred to a ‘homosexual condition’ rather than a group of people within the church who are gay,” the group reportedly said.

The pope also met with a group of LGBTQ children and their parents in September to offer words of acceptance.

“God loves your children as they are,” he told the group, which was part of an Italian LGBTQ Christian association called Tenda di Gionata, according to America, the Jesuit weekly magazine.

He added: “The church loves your children as they are because they are children of God.”