LGBTQ couples are hopeful as Pope Francis endorses same-sex civil unions for the first time in his role as the Catholic Church leader.
People worldwide are processing mixed feelings on Pope Francis' support for legally protected same-sex civil unions.
In a new documentary that premiered in Rome, Pope Francis called for the passage of civil union laws for same-sex couples.
Pope Francis says:
"Homosexual people have the right to be in a family. They are children of God."
"You can't kick someone out of a family, nor make their life miserable for this. So what we [need] to have is a civil union law."
The film Francesco, about the life and work of Pope Francis, premiered as part of the Rome Film Festival.
In addition to the Pope's comments, the film also shows him encouraging two gay men to attend church with their three children.
The Jesuit priest who has been at the forefront in building bridges with gay people in the church, the Rev. James Martin, praised the Pope's comments.
He said that Pope's support is 'a major step forward in the church's support for LGBT people.'
"The Pope's speaking positively about civil unions also sends a strong message to places where the church has opposed such laws."
Survivor Juan Carlos Cruz was also at the film festival in Rome to express his support for the documentary.
At the event, Cruz said:
"I was scolded for my homosexuality."
"But the Pope told me something different: God made gay people, and God loves you. So, the church loves you, and the Pope loves you."
"Since then, many gay people have called me in tears once [I shared] this phrase. This is what [Pope] showed the world."
Pope Francis Has Previously Supported Same-Sex Civil Unions in the Past
While serving as archbishop of Buenos Aires, he endorsed civil unions for gay couples as an alternative to same-sex marriages.
However, he had never come out publicly in favor of civil unions as pontiff.
He's Always Embraced the LGBTQ+ Community, Though
In his book Thee Name of God is Mercy, he addressed the community writing:
"If a person is gay and seeks out the Lord and is willing, who am I to judge that person?"
"I was paraphrasing by heart the Catechism of the Catholic Church where it says that these people should be treated with delicacy and not be marginalized."
"I am glad we are talking about 'homosexual people' because before all else comes the individual person, in his wholeness and dignity."
"People should not be defined only by their sexual tendencies."
"Let us not forget that God loves all his creatures, and we are destined to receive his infinite love."