Pope Francis has called for civil union laws for same-sex couples in what experts consider to be his most explicit statement yet on the hot button issue, unveiled as part of a new documentary that world premiered Wednesday at the Rome Film Festival.

In “Francesco,” directed by U.S.-based helmer Evgeny Afineevsky (“Winter on Fire”), the pontiff also says that “homosexuals have a right to be part of the family,” as quoted by the Catholic News Agency.

Regarding same-sex civil unions, the Vatican-aligned news outlet also quotes Pope Francis as saying that “what we have to create is a civil union law,” and adding, “That way, they are legally covered. I stood up for that.”

Though Francis is known to have supported civil unions for gay couples in lieu of same-sex marriages when he was Archbishop of Buenos Aires, experts say he had never spoken so clearly about supporting civil unions since becoming pope in 2013.

In 2013, Francis is widely known to have said about somebody who is gay: “Who am I to judge?” The pontiff has also spoken often about his ministry to gay and lesbian Catholics, saying they are loved by God and welcomed by the church.

The doc, which is produced in collaboration with the Ucla School of Theater, Film and Television, will be premiering in the U.S. on Oct. 25 at the Savannah Film Festival.

Afineevsky was nominated for an Oscar for “Winter on Fire” in 2016 and in 2018 scored 3 Emmy nominations for “Cries from Syria.”

In the “Francesco” doc, the main interview for which was shot in June, Francis also speaks about the coronavirus pandemic, the civil wars in Syria and Ukraine, and the persecution of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar.