Pope Francis says in a new film released on Wednesday that homosexuals should be protected by civil union laws, in some of the clearest language he has used on the rights of gay people.
"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," he says in the documentary "Francesco" by Oscar-nominated director Evgeny Afineevsky.
"What we have to create is a civil union law. That way they are legally covered. I stood up for that," he said.
The pope appeared to be referring to when he was archbishop of Buenos Aires and opposed legislation to approve same sex marriages but supported some kind of legal protection for the rights of gay couples.
According to papal biographer Austen Ivereigh, his comments in the film released on Wednesday were some of the clearest language the pope has used on the subject since his election in 2013.
The pope spoke in a section of the film about Andrea Rubera, a gay man who with his partner adopted three children.
Rubera says in the film that he went to a morning Mass the pope said in his Vatican residence and gave him a letter explaining his situation.
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He told the pope that he and his partner wanted to bring the children up as Catholics in the local parish but did not know how they would be received. It was not clear in which country Rubera lives
Rubera said the pope telephoned him several days later, telling him he was moved by the letter and urging the couple to introduce their children to the parish but to be ready for opposition.
The film shows Rubera giving the letter to the pope. He says he and his partner took the pope's advice and are happy they did.