By Juli McDonald

BOSTON (CBS) – A sign of hope, and a small step forward. Around the world, believers are processing mixed feelings on Pope Francis’ support for legally-protected, same-sex civil unions. In a new documentary, the Pope says: “Homosexual people have the right to be in a family. They are children of God. You can’t kick someone out of a family, nor make their life miserable for this.”

“They’re making progress toward inclusivity, which means the world to me because I am a Catholic,” said Malinda Anders of Dudley.

Anders married her wife six years ago. They have three beautiful children – all of whom are baptized. She views the endorsement as a message to her kids: their family is welcome, and Catholic faith is a gift they can share together.

“It’s like a friend you’ve had for your whole life. You’re able to rely on when you don’t have anyone else,” she added.

But there is still a long way to go.

“Generally we’re looking and waiting for much more than that,” said Jon Schum.

Schum, of West Roxbury, served as an ordained priest for 20 years before he met his husband. They’re longtime active members of Dignity Boston, a religious organization advocating for LGBTQI rights in the church and society. Schum wants to feel he – and his marriage – are cherished and valued by the church.

“That won’t happen until LGBTQI persons become leaders within the Catholic Church, where their ministries are welcome, they can be ordained,” he said.

Still, Schum treasures his Catholic faith. And always will.

“I refuse to surrender it or give it away,” Schum said. “It’s part of who I am. I will always claim it, in spite of what the church may say about me.”

Juli McDonald

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