Terming homosexuals as children of God, Pope Francis extended his support to same-sex civil unions. The pontiff expressed his views in a documentary titled Francesco, which was released on Wednesday.

The documentary by Evgeny Afineevsky was premiered at the Rome Film Festival and covers a number of interviews with Francis. The pontiff talks about varied issues including environment, poverty, migration, racial and income inequality, and the people most affected by discrimination. Pope Francis, who has changed his stance over homosexuals, became the first pontiff to endorse same-sex civil unions.

Pope Francis
Pope Francis Pixabay

Nobody Should be Thrown Out Or Made Miserable For Being Gay

In 2013, Pope Francis had written in the book, On Heaven and Earth, that legally equates same-sex relationships and heterosexual marriages as an anthropological regression. He had also added that children of the same-sex couples could be affected as every person needs a male father and a female mother that can help them shape their identity, reported BBC.

The latest statement is seen as a massive shift of the Pope's stance on homosexuality. "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 made miserable over it. What we have to create is a civil union law. That way they are legally covered," said the Pope in the documentary.

While referring to his tenure as Archbishop of Buenos Aires during which despite opposing same-sex marriages in law, he supported some legal protections for same-sex couples, Francis said he "stood up for that."

Pope's Endorsement Draws Mixed Reactions

Soon after the documentary was aired, the Pope's endorsement of same sex unions drew mixed reactions on social media. Terming it as a major step major step forward in the church's support for LGBT people, Rev James Martin said: "The pope's speaking positively about civil unions also sends a strong message to places where the church has opposed such laws."

Seeking clarification on the statement, conservative bishop of Providence, Rhode Island, Thomas Tobin, said in a statement: "The pope's statement clearly contradicts what has been the long-standing teaching of the church about same-sex unions. The church cannot support the acceptance of objectively immoral relationships."

"The Pope is an instrument of Satan the Devil. From his reasoning to his choices. How the Queen can just sit at this and not intervene. As head of the church how can she condone what God said in his words abomination? We got to separate heterosexual people from gay," tweeted a user.

"It's a big step for the Catholic Church, but not in a direction of full community respect for gay people and their loved ones. It tells the other Catholics to just tolerate these different families, but as something other. Tolerance is not full acceptance," expressed another.

"Dear Pope Francis, Are you attempting to re-write Gods Laws? Gay people have a right to have the comfort of home and family But not in a church! SHAME ON YOU!! YOU ARE NOT GOD!! YOU HAVE NO RIGHT TO CHANGE GODS LAWS. If I were you I wouldn't count on going to heaven when you die," wrote another user.