Following Pope Francis’s announcement declaring support for civil union laws for same-sex couples, which breaks with traditional Catholic values that oppose homosexual relationships, the leader has garnered both criticism and support from people all over the world.

Most recently, NBC reports that retired Philippine Bishop Arturo Bastes commented that he “had very serious doubts about the moral correctness” of the Pope’s stance on legalizing gay relationships.

“This is a shocking statement coming from the pope,” Bastes said in a cell phone message Thursday, according to The Associated Press and NBC. “I am really scandalized by his defense of homosexual union, which surely leads to immoral acts.”

Pope Francis’s comments occurred in a documentary about his life titled “Francesco,” which premiered in Rome. In the film, the pontiff said that gay individuals are “children of God and have a right to a family. Nobody should be thrown out, or be made miserable because of it [their sexuality].”

While the leader of the Catholic Church expressed his support for gay marriage, other branches of the church remain adamant in the traditional Catholic values.

On Wednesday, following the announcement, Bishop Thomas Tobin of the Diocese of Providence, Rhode Island, stated that Pope Francis’s comments are in diametrical opposition to the church’s stance on same-sex unions.

“The Church cannot support the acceptance of objectively immoral relationships,” Tobin wrote. “Individuals with same-sex attraction are beloved children of God and must have their personal human rights and civil rights recognized and protected by law. However, the legalization of their civil unions, which seek to simulate holy matrimony, is not admissible.”

Similarly, Brian Burch, the president of CatholicVote, told AP that the Catholic definition of marriage is exclusively between a man and a woman, and that Pope Francis “has no ability to change that teaching about the permanence and exclusivity of marriage.”

Advocacy organizations supporting LGBTQ+ rights have, in contrast, applauded the pope’s stance. 

“By shifting Catholic theology in a more inclusive direction and making clear that LGBTQ people have a right to their own families, Pope Francis is letting LGBTQ Catholics know that being a person of faith and being LGBTQ are not mutually exclusive,” Human Rights Campaign President Alphonso David said. “While we at the Human Rights Campaign acknowledge this moment, we continue to push the Catholic Church, and all religious leaders, to fully embrace LGBTQ people and endorse marriage equality for same-sex couples, our right to have families, and to be full members of our faith communities.”

Pope Francis was previously the archbishop of Buenos Aires and a cardinal before being elected as Pope by the College of Cardinals. 

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