DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) — Catholic churches across the country are reacting to Pope Francis’ endorsement of same-sex civil unions but faith experts say even though its his opinion, it may get the ball rolling for legal action.
“We have felt excluded from the church, from religion, for so long, so to be acknowledged and invited really turns the tables,” said R.J. McKay, leader of the Greater Dayton LGBT Center.
On Wednesday it came to light that Pope Francis declared his support for same-sex civil unions while filming a new documentary. Miami Valley LGBTQ leaders say they want the endorsement to lead to new laws to improve equality.
“Because it’s just an opinion by Pope Franics it doesn’t have a lot of weight yet, I think it’s going to touch more hearts then it will more legal issues for now,” said McKay.
The Archdiocese of Cincinnati did not comment on the nature of the Pope’s remarks but said the following:
“Whenever the Holy Father has new pastoral direction to communicate, he conveys it to the bishops directly. Archbishop Schnurr has received no such information on this matter and the catholic teaching of the nature of marriage between a man and a woman is unchanging.”The Archdiocese of Cincinnati
Pope Francis is the first Pope to endorse same-sex civil unions and experts say it will likely cause some conflict within the catholic church.
“There will be disagreement with the statement, I anticipate it but I also think there will be people who find this kind of statement encouraging to them,” said Dr. Sandra Yocum, professor of faith and culture at the University of Dayton. “Probably people who feel they’ve been marginalized.”
As the world waits to see the full impact of the pope’s comments, members of the LGBTQ community say they welcome the sign of support .
“I hope it really encourages people to look into their hearts and to change some of their mindsets about homosexuality and same-sex couples in general,” said McKay.
While previously serving as Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Francis endorsed civil unions for same-sex couples as an alternative to marriage.