Catholics around the world and in Connecticut learned Pope Francis endorsed same-sex civil unions for the first time as pontiff as part of a documentary.
“He has this way of introducing the conversation but not through formal channels,” said Reverend Jordan Lenaghan, executive director of Quinnipiac University Religious Life.
Francis has previously endorsed civil unions for gay couples while archbishop of Buenos Aires.
Though his more recent support caught many by surprise.
Lenaghan points out while the pope has not changed church doctrine expressing his personal beliefs can have a big impact.
“I think this in many ways is a major change in how we think about pastorally engaging LGBTQ+ folks,” said Lenaghan.
In the documentary, Francis says gay people are children of God, who should not be kicked out a family and whose life should not be made miserable.
Patrick Dunn - the executive director of the New Haven Pride Center - says it’s important for one of the most influential religious leaders in the world to stand up against discrimination.
“I think it’s a tremendous step forward,” said Dunn.
He also hopes the Pope explaining his view helps influence others as the march for equality continues.
“One of the best ways we can move forward with civil rights in the United States as a queer community is if some of the negative energy that comes towards our community from a devout religious perspective, your existence is wrong, if that eases,” said Dunn.
In response to a request for comment, the Archdiocese of Hartford says it’s waiting to make any statement until after seeing the film and the full context of the quotes.