KIMT NEWS 3 - Pope Francis made headlines around the world when he endorsed same-sex civil unions in a documentary that debuted in Rome Wednesday.
Here's an excerpt from Pope Francis' interview: "Homosexual people have the right to be in a family. They are children of God ... You can't kick someone out of a family, not make their life miserable for this. What we have to have is a civil union law; that way they are legally covered."
Alfred Walking Bull identifies as Indigenous, queer, and a practicing Catholic.
He said the Pope's words were one more step in the journey to progress.
"For LGBTQ Catholics and faith communities throughout the world, what this means is the Pope has kind of continued to push the conversation that needs to happen to include, and as far as the Pope's concerned, every LGBTQ person should be included in their faith community," Walking Bull explained.
With many LGBTQ people feeling forced out of the faith when they come out, Walking Bull said the declaration signals a homecoming.
"It's joyous to know that we're being welcomed back and that the Pope continues to see us as children of God and siblings in Christ," he said.
Walking Bull sees this as an encouraging first step, but allows there still needs to be action to change church doctrine.
"I think that this is a really good first step in reaffirming that legal rights are human rights, that LGBTQ people are entitled to equal protection under the law," Walking Bull said.
KIMT News 3 reached out to several Catholic churches in Rochester. Since the story is so new, they either didn't want to comment or pointed us in the direction of the Diocese of Winona-Rochester.
The Diocese of Winona-Rochester didn't want to comment until the Vatican released a formal statement.
Rochester Pride Board Chair Jennifer Winter released the following statement on the matter: "While the Pope's comments on civil unions do represent a small step toward tolerance, it is important to remember that the Church is still not accepting or affirming of full inclusion of LGBTQIA+ families within Catholicism. This slow incremental approach toward LGBTQIA+ acceptance by the church continues to harm LGBTQIA+ Catholics by marginalizing them from their faith communities. We look forward to the day when all religions are accepting and affirming of LGBTQIA+ individuals in words, policies, and actions."