“Francesco”, a documentary film focusing on the life and teachings of the current leader of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Francis, debuted on Oct. 21, 2020. The film, directed by Israeli-American film producer, Evgeny Afineevsky, allows the followers of the church and all those interested to gain insight to the progressiveness of Pope Francis’ views on same-sex marriage. Pope Francis is considered to be one of the most inclusive and accepting leaders that the Roman Catholic church has ever seen. Though the opinions of his LGBTQ followers and their allies have been nothing but positive, Pope Francis has received quite a bit of backlash from the conservative members within the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic institution as well as representatives all over the world.
Since 2010, Pope Francis has advocated for the legal protection and equality of health benefits for same-sex couples. It is his belief that gay people are also God’s children and should be treated as such in the eyes of religion as well as the law. In the film “Francesco”, he stated in an interview that a civil union law must be created in order for same-sex couples to be “legally covered.” Many followers are supportive of his progressive beliefs and inclusive words. These supporters have discussed how they feel it’s about time for the church to catch up with society and the way the world has grown over the years. Those who oppose Pope Francis’ comments and viewpoints have not hidden their discontent, however. Supporting this criticism is Reverend Al Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, who commented that “Given the influence of that church worldwide… [same-sex marriages] will weaken Christian witness to marriage and sexuality and gender according to God’s will and God’s word.”
More conservative critics of Pope Francis have stated they feel the perspective the Pope shared in the film interview was a direct attack on “traditional church teachings” and they are in complete disagreement with the words and actions of the Pope. Bishop Thomas Thobin, who belongs to one of the more conservative wings of the Church in Rhode Island, has stated that he feels that the Pope’s statement “clearly contradicts what has been the longstanding teaching of the church about same-sex unions.”
When Francis was the cardinal archbishop of Buenos Aires in 2010, he outwardly supported the “civil union” between gay couples. Although the Church does not explicitly teach homosexuality as a sin, it does elude to the idea that homosexual acts are “intrinsically disordered”; homosexual orientation is thereby disordered by proxy. Pope Francis believes that gay couples deserve the right to be “part of the family.” In the documentary “Francesco” he stated that “[The LGBTQ people are] children of God and have a right to a family. Nobody should be thrown out or be made miserable because of it.”
- Though the Pope has voiced his personal opinion and feelings towards same-sex unions and the gay community, the Church doctrine has yet to be changed and most likely will not be for an insurmountable period of time. The Church doctrine states that “the principles of respect and non-discrimination cannot be invoked to support legal recognition of homosexual unions.” Regardless of this, there is a feeling of relief and acceptance that has washed over the gay community as they’ve gained perhaps the most important ally: Pope Frances.