BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Marking a major shift in the Catholic Church, Pope Francis voiced his support of same-sex civil unions in a recent documentary. While the statement angered more conservative Catholics, some find it encouraging.

“We have never heard anything so positive from a pope about lesbian and gay relationships,” said Francis DeBernardo, executive director of New Ways Ministry.

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Francis DeBernado advocates for justice and equality for LGBTQ Catholics.

“I think when the pope speaks, he doesn’t give orders as much as sets the tone for other church leaders. So that means that LGBTQ, lesbian and gay couples with families and parishes are going to be so much more comfortable and accepted into parish of life,” DeBernardo said.

People like Malinda Anders, who is a married to a woman and has three children.

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“It means the world to me, because I am a Catholic, and it’s got such a negative connotation in the LGBTQ community,” she said.

DeBernardo believes the comments could also affect things like adoption by a same-sex couple, and those who lost jobs within the church, to being married to someone of the same sex.

“His comments doesn’t just reflect attitudes about lesbian and gay people, it reflects a pope who wants everyone to feel welcome in the Catholic Church,” DeBernardo said.

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DeBernardo said he feels this shift could help bring younger parishioners to the church who may have believed their stances on issues like gay marriage were dated.

Sean Streicher