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Stories about Pope Francis, the 266th pope of the Roman Catholic Church.

Expert: Pope's Comments On Same-Sex Unions Mark 'Major Change' For Catholic Church

AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia
Pope Francis

Last week, Pope Francis called for the legal recognition of civil unions between same-sex couples. He made the comments in an interview for the documentary "Francesco."

At an event at Sacred Heart University, Professor of Catholic Studies Dan Rober spoke about Catholic teaching on same-sex couples. Rober said the Pope’s comments are significant.

“For those who were familiar with Francis’s thought, particularly as Archbishop in Buenos Aires, not terribly shocking, but still kind of represents a major change in tone and perhaps even in content in Catholic teaching on this issue,” Rober said.

Mollie Wilson O’Reilly of Commonweal Magazine described the Pope’s attitude as open and realistic.

“I think he says something in this film like, ‘They shouldn’t be made to feel miserable because of who they are,’ which is, to me, an even more radical potential change in the Church’s attitudes,” O'Reilly said at the event.

O’Reilly believes that the positive response to the pope’s statement shows that people want a sign of openness from the Church.

Other participants at the event say the pope’s statement nudges the Church’s position towards an acceptance of legal rights for LGBTQ+ people, while still opposing gay marriage.