Pope Francis said that he believes same-sex couples should be allowed to have “civil unions”.
The Pope made the controversial comments in a documentary, directed by Evgeny Afineevsky.
“Homosexual people have a right to be in a family,” he said in the film, which premiered on Wednesday.
His views are not aligned with those expressed by his predecessors or even in Vatican law.
The Pope maintained that homosexuals are also children of God.
“They are children of God and have a right to a family. Nobody should be thrown out or made miserable over it,” he said.
“What we have to create is a civil union law. That way they are legally covered.”
The Pope had spoken out in favour of civil unions while serving as archbishop of Buenos Aires. He endorsed civil unions as an alternative to gay marriage.
“What we have to create is a civil union law. That way they are legally covered. I stood up for that,” the pope added.
Civil unions are the legal recognition of the committed, marriage-like partnership of two individuals. They give the couple legal benefits that are similar or equal to those of marriage, such as rights of inheritance, hospital visitation and medical decision making.
Gays have long been the target of prosecution by the catholic church throughout its history. The church also still views homosexuality as an “intrinsic disorder.” It teaches that homosexual acts are sinful, but its modern stance is that being gay is not a sin on its own.