The Vatican has said comments by Pope Francis on civil union laws in a documentary last month were taken out of context and did not signal a change in Church doctrine on homosexuals or support for same-sex marriage.

The documentary, “Francesco”, which premiered at the Rome film festival on 21 October, made headlines for a comment in which the pope says that homosexuals have a right to be in a family and that civil union laws covering homosexuals are needed.

The pope’s comments as portrayed prompted praise from liberals and calls for urgent clarification from conservatives.

Afineevsky refused to discuss the editing process. It was not immediately possible to contact him for comment on the Vatican note.

The note said that in the first quote, the pope was referring to the right of homosexuals to be accepted by their own families as children and siblings.

Some saw the comments as homosexuals having a right to form families.

The note said the documentary cut comments where the pope expressed opposition to opposed homosexual marriage and made clear he was referring to civil union laws, which some countries have enacted to regulate benefits such as health care.

A phrase where Francis said “it is an incongruence to speak of homosexual marriage” was cut.

“It is clear that Pope Francis was referring to certain state provisions and certainly not the doctrine of the Church, which he has reaffirmed numerous times over the years,” the note said.

The Church teaches that homosexual tendencies are not sinful but homosexual acts are and that homosexuals must be treated with respect.