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There  appears to be a deep crack in christendom as  Pope Francis, Head of the Catholic Church, has endorsed same-sex civil unions in a landmark move that has received mixed reactions.

The pope’s endorsement came midway through a feature-length documentary, titled “Francesco”, which premiered at the Rome film festival last Wednesday.

The documentary features fresh interviews with the Pope, and delves into issues about the environment, poverty, migration, racial and income inequality, and the people most affected by discrimination.

“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 be made miserable over it. What we have to create is a civil union law. That way they are legally covered. I stood up for that.” Pope Francis said.

While serving as archbishop of Buenos Aires, Francis endorsed civil unions for gay couples as an alternative to same-sex marriages. However, he had never come out publicly in favour of civil unions as pope.

Traditionally, the Catholic Church considers sexual activity between members of the same sex to be a sin. According to the Catholic theology of sexuality, all sexual acts must be open to procreation and express the symbolism of male-female complementarity.

Anglican Bishop Emeritus of Diocese of Okrika, Rt. Rev. Tubokosemie Abere said the Bible is the authority of every believer adding that the Bible has declared in Genesis that a   sexual union should be between opposite genders, male and female.

He said the pope could be speaking out of his personal concern to save sinners including homosexuals.

Cardinal Raymond Burke, a frequent critic of Francis, said the pope’s comments should be “rightly interpreted as simple private opinions of the person who made them. Such declarations generate great bewilderment and cause confusion and error among Catholic faithful,” Burke, a member of the Vatican’s highest court, said in a statement Thursday on his website.

He added that Francis’ views were contrary to Catholic teachings.

Southern Baptist leaders reiterated their commitment to the authority of the Bible’s teaching regarding sexuality and marriage.

SBC President J.D. Greear was among several Southern Baptist leaders who reaffirmed the SBC’s conviction that marriage is an institution created by God and exclusive to one man and one woman.

“No matter what a pope, pastor or elected official says, we do not get to define sexuality or the family,” said Greear, who is also pastor of The Summit Church in the Raleigh-Durham, N.C., area. “The Creator does, and on this His word could not be more clear.”

The Baptist Faith and Message 2000 defines homosexuality as sin and marriage as “the uniting of one man and one woman in covenant commitment for a lifetime.”

Bishop Thomas Tobin of Providence, Rhode Island, was one of the first conservative Catholic leaders to go public with criticism.

“The Pope’s statement clearly contradicts what has been the long-standing teaching of the Church about same-sex unions,” Tobin said in a statement. “The Church cannot support the acceptance of objectively immoral relationships.”

In contrast, Francis DeBernardo of New Ways Ministry, which represents LGBTQ Catholics, hailed the pope s comments as a “historic” shift for a church that has a record of persecuting gays.

There are questions   about the origins of Pope Francis’ bombshell comments endorsing same-sex civil unions, with all evidence suggesting he made them in a 2019 interview that was never broadcast in its entirety.

The Vatican refused to comment on whether it cut the remarks from its own broadcast or if the Mexican broadcaster that conducted the interview did. And it didn’t respond to questions about why it allowed the comments to be aired now in the documentary “Francesco,” which premiered Wednesday.

In the movie, which was shown at the Rome Film Festival, Francis said gay people have the right to be in a family since they are “children of God.”

“You can’t kick someone out of a family, nor make their life miserable for this,” the pope said. “What we have to have is a civil union law; that way they are legally covered.”

Those comments caused a firestorm, thrilling progressives and alarming conservatives, given official Vatican teaching prohibits any such endorsement of homosexual unions.

While serving as archbishop of Buenos Aires, Francis endorsed civil unions for gay couples as an alternative to same-sex marriages. However, he had never come out publicly in favor of legal protections for civil unions as pope, and no pontiff before him had, either.

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