Pope Francis calls for civil union laws for gay couples

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Pope Francis Gregorio Borgia/AP

Someone call the Freedom From Religion Foundation: The pope is saying laws should be made to give legal protection to same-sex couples.

Inserting himself as the world’s pre-eminent Catholic leader into secular government and state lawmaking, Pope Francis is speaking up in defense of homosexual families and calling for civil union laws for same-sex couples — shifting widely from both his own and the Vatican’s stated stance on the issue.

What would have happened if he had called for laws against redefining marriage?

“Homosexuals have a right to be a part of the family. They’re children of God and have a right to a family,” the pontiff declares in the new documentary Francesco, according to the Catholic News Agency (CNA).

“Nobody should be thrown out, or be made miserable because of it,” the pope reportedly says in the documentary, which premiered Oct. 21 at the Rome Film Festival.

“What we have to create is a civil union law. That way they are legally covered,” the pope said.

Pope Francis was against efforts to legalize same-sex marriage in 2010 while he was archbishop of Buenos Aires, and has only been “circumspect” in his support of civil unions, CNA reported.

“This is the first time as pope he’s making such a clear statement,” the Rev. James Martin, a prominent Jesuit who has advocated for the church to more openly welcome LGBT members, told the Washington Post.

The shift is likely to spark disagreement among Catholics. Until recently, CNA noted, support for such unions was deemed “gravely immoral.”

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