While being interviewed for the feature-length documentary Francesco,which made its premiere at the Rome Film Festival on Wednesday, Pope Francis did something he has never done before as pope; he endorsed same-sex civil unions. Homosexual people have the right to be in a family, Francis said during one of the sections he was interviewed for in the film. What we have to have is a civil union law; that way they are legally covered.

The film focused on many of the topics Pope Francis cares most about, including poverty, migration, racial and income inequality, the environment and discrimination.

The director of the film, Evgeny Afineevsky, was granted incredible access to cardinals, the Vatican television archives and the pope. The director told USA Today he negotiated his way in through persistence, and deliveries of Argentine mate tea and Alfajores’ cookies that he got to the pope courtesy of well-connected Argentines living in Rome.

This is not the first time Pope Francis has endorsed civil unions for gay couples as an alternative to same-sex marriages. Prior to becoming pope and while serving as archbishop of Buenos Aires, he gave the thumbs up, but it has not happened since he became pope in 2013.

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