- “Homosexual people have the right to be in a family. They are children of God,” Francis said in one of his sit-down interviews for the film.
- “This was his position as Archbishop of Buenos Aires.”
- The film does not address religious issues, but the Pope’s ideas about the great challenges of our time.
Pope Francis, in a rare move that has left the world asking many questions, endorsed same-sex civil unions for the first time as pontiff on Wednesday. The Pope made his remarks during an interview for the documentary “Francesco,” which premiered at the Rome Film Festival that same day.
“Homosexual people have the right to be in a family. They are children of God,” Francis said in one of his sit-down interviews for the film. “You can’t kick someone out of a family, nor make their life miserable for this. What we have to have is a civil union law; that way they are legally covered.”
The film of which he was interviewed, addresses issues that Pope Francis is most concerned with, including the environment, poverty, migration, racial inequality, and discrimination. While serving as archbishop of Buenos Aires, Francisco defended civil unions for homosexual couples. However, he had never before broached the issue in his current status as the Pope.
The Pope’s biographer, Austen Ivereigh, told the BBC that he was “not surprised” by the latest comments. “This was his position as Archbishop of Buenos Aires,” said Mr Ivereigh. “He was always opposed to marriage being for same-sex couples. But he believed the church should advocate for a civil union law for gay couples to give them legal protection.”
One of the main characters in the documentary is Juan Carlos Cruz, the Chilean survivor of sexual abuse by the clergy that Pope Francis initially discredited during a 2018 visit to Chile. Cruz, who is a homosexual, tells his own story in fragments throughout the film, narrating Francis’ evolution in understanding sexual abuse and documenting the Pope’s views on homosexuals.
The director of the film, Evgeny Afineevsky, explained that it is a documentary dedicated to a humanity that creates dramas and disasters, and with humility and wisdom, tries to guide us to build a better future.
The 48-year old director was born in Kazan, in the former Soviet Union, and grew up in Israel. He later emigrated to the United States, where he is now a resident. He does not address religious issues, but the Pope’s ideas about the great challenges of our time.
Afineevsky was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Documentary in 2016 with “Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom,” about the Maidan revolution. He was also nominated for three Emmys for 2017’s “Cries from Syria.”
It took almost three years to complete this project that, for two hours, traces Pope Francis’ thoughts and experiences, through his travels and testimonies from personalities and friends. Afineevsky guarantees that he does not intend to portray Pope Francis as a celebrity.
“Listen, when you are in the Vatican, the only way to achieve something is to break the rule and then to say, ‘I’m sorry,’” Afineevsky said in an interview ahead of the premiere.
The film also features interviews with Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, Filipino Cardinal Tagle, and President Armen Sarkissian of Armenia, and others. While in Armenia, Pope Francis mentioned the Armenian genocide, which caused Turkey’s ire.