There might be large changes in the Catholic Church in the future. Pope Francis has become the first pontiff to express support for same-sex civil unions. He commented about this in an interview in a documentary film called ‘Francesco’ which premiered at the Rome film festival on Wednesday, October 21.
“Homosexual people have a right to be in a family. They are children of God and have a right to a family. Nobody should be thrown out or be made miserable over it. What we have to create is a civil union law. That way they are legally covered. I stood up for that,” said Pope Francis, causing very powerful reactions all over the world.
Bored Panda has collected some of the best reactions to the pontiff’s announcement for you to look through, dear Pandas, so scroll on down, upvote your faves, and share your thoughts with everyone in the comments. Bored Panda reached out to Andreas Harsono from the Human Rights Watch to hear his take on the pope's comment. Read on for Harsono's insights about the effects of the pontiff's comment, how the Vatican might react, and what the effect on the Catholic world could be. We also contacted LGBTQ Faith UK to hear their take on the situation as well.
Finally, we contacted James Martin, a Jesuit priest and author of the book 'Building a Bridge,' on LGBT Catholics. He met with Pope Francis last year in a private audience where they discussed LGBT Catholics. "I had seen the documentary a few weeks ago, and was surprised and delighted by the Pope's candid comments about same-sex civil unions. He had said similar things when he was Archbishop of Buenos Aires, but saying them when he's pope and in such a clear way, on camera, is another thing. It's an important step forward in the church's relationship with the LGBT community," Father Martin told Bored Panda.
According to Father Martin, Pope Francis' comments stand on their own, especially since the pontiff has said similar things before. "At one point in the documentary, he says, 'I stood for that,' meaning that he had supported the same thing in Buenos Aires. So it would be hard to deny that he said what he said—especially since he said it before."
But what changes does the future hold? Father Martin said that change is coming. It's slow, but it has begun. "While Pope Francis hasn't changed official church teaching, the comments themselves are part of real change that he's instituted in the church's relationship with the LGBT community. He's changed the tone, the approach and the whole conversation around the LGBT community. Remember, he's the first pope even to use the word 'gay;' he's talked about the need to welcome and support LGBT people in families; and he himself has gay friends."
Father James Martin, who is a Jesuit priest, told Bored Panda that he spoke with Pope Francis last year in a private audience during which they discussed LGBT Catholics.
Harsono from the Human Rights Watch explained that he's based in Jakarta, in Indonesia, where Pope Francis' comment may be met with some confusion.
"It is the largest predominantly Muslim country in the world. Indonesia is also seeing the rise of Islamism, discriminating LGBT individuals from transgender women who run hair salons to gay police and military officers. The Pope statement will puzzle many Muslim clerics in Indonesia. The progressive clerics will indeed welcome the Pope position that LGBT individuals have the rights to love and be loved. The conservative clerics will oppose it, widening the gap between what they considered to be Christianity and Islamism."
According to the human rights activist, the Roman Catholic church is an old and large religious insititution, so there shouldn't be any surprise if there's infighting within the orders and the bishops. It also shouldn't come as a surprise if the Vatican puts out a clarification about the pope's comment in the documentary. However, Harsono remains optimistic.
"His comment will bring changes throughout the Catholic world. Perhaps, some areas will have slower change than the others. In countries with gay marriages, the pontiff's statement will proceed faster. I hope Indonesia, which has a small but economically strong Catholic communities, will proceed faster, at least, among Christians."
Meanwhile, a representative of LGBTQ Faith UK told Bored Panda that they, like a lot of other people, were happy to see Pope Francis making the statement. "It is very welcome news. This is in line with what the pope said when he was archbishop in Buenos Aires, so this is what he actually thinks. The Vatican may roll it back a bit, but this is progress, even if it is the two steps forward, one step backwards type."
They continued: "It will not change things overnight, but it is another step on the road of progress. What it will do is make it harder for those who oppose same sex unions to simple hide behind the Roman Catholic Faith. It also offers support and encouragement to those who are campaigning for change."
The film ‘Francesco’ is directed by Evgeny Afineevsky and documents Pope Francis’ story over the last 7.5 years. The film covers issues that the current pontiff finds the most important, such as poverty, inequality, migration, and the environment.
According to The Guardian, as pope, Francis had never previously publicly backed civil unions for same-sex couples. The words “as pope” being key here. However, he has previously endorsed such legal arrangements when he was the Archbishop of Buenos Aires.
However, before some of you Pandas start celebrating, you might want to temper your expectations a bit. Fundamental religious changes take decades (if not hundreds of years) to take root. And keep in mind that civil unions might be similar to marriage, but they’re not exactly the same.
While some people are ecstatic about the church modernizing and some powerful public figures have seen the pope’s comments as positive, other members of the faith aren’t thrilled by the news. Changing thousands of years of belief will take more than a single comment.
In the US, LGBTQ Catholics welcomed Pope Francis’ endorsement of same-sex civil unions. Meanwhile, Bishop Thomas Tobin of Providence, Rhode Island, was one of the first conservative Catholic leaders to publicly criticize the pontiff’s comment, writes AP.