Watch: U.N. Chief Guterres Praises Pope for Backing Same-Sex Civil Unions

Pope Francis (R) talks with Secretary-General of the United Nations, Portugal's Antonio Guterres during a private audience on December 20, 2019 in the Vatican. (Photo by Filippo MONTEFORTE / POOL / AFP) (Photo by FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

The decision by Pope Francis to offer his tentative support for civil union laws for same-sex couples was praised Thursday by U.N. chief Antonio Guterres.

A devout worshipper from Catholic Portugal, the former socialist political leader said the cautious papal thumbs-up was “extremely welcome.”

“This is a clear demonstration of a fundamental principle, which is the principle of nondiscrimination,” said Guterres in New York during an interview with the Associated Press. “And one of the things that has been very clear in the U.N. doctrine on this is that non-discrimination is also relevant in the questions of sexual orientation.

“So this is decision of the Pope is, of course, extremely welcome from our perspective.”

Francis’s comments emerged in a new documentary titled Francesco in which he said that “what we have to create is a civil union law,” a position at odds with previous Vatican dogma.

While Francis, 83, opposes gay marriage, his words were hailed by admirers as a “major step forward in the church’s support for LGBT people.”

The pope’s remarks sparked immediate calls for clarification as they seem to directly contradict official Catholic teaching on the matter, as Breitbart News reported.

A Vatican document from 2003, signed by then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger and expressly approved by Saint John Paul II, forbade Catholics from supporting civil unions for gays.

“Those who would move from tolerance to the legitimization of specific rights for cohabiting homosexual persons need to be reminded that the approval or legalization of evil is something far different from the toleration of evil,” the text states.

“In those situations where homosexual unions have been legally recognized or have been given the legal status and rights belonging to marriage, clear and emphatic opposition is a duty,” the document declares, calling such laws “gravely unjust.”

The text lays out a series of arguments as to why Catholics can never support legislation recognizing homosexual couples as civil unions.

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