VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis on Wednesday urged parents not to condemn their children if they are gay, in his latest gesture to raise awareness for the LGBTQ community that has long been marginalized by the Catholic hierarchy.
Francis spoke spontaneously during his weekly Wednesday general audience dedicated to the figure of Saint Joseph, the father of Jesus. Francis said he was thinking in particular of parents who face “sad” situations in the lives of their children.
Quoting parents who have to deal with children who are sick, imprisoned or killed in car accidents, Francis added: “Parents who see that their children have different sexual orientations, how do they deal with that and accompany their children and do not not hide behind a condemnatory attitude.”
“Never condemn a child,” he said.
Official church teaching calls for gays and lesbians to be respected and loved, but considers homosexual activity to be “intrinsically disordered.” Francis, however, has sought to make the church more gay-friendly, most notably with his 2013 comment “Who am I to judge?”
The Argentinian Jesuit also spoke about his own ministry to gay and transgender people, insisting that they are children of God, loved by God and deserving to be accompanied by the church.
Francis has also made several gestures to raise awareness of the gay Catholic community and its advocates, including a recent letter congratulating a formerly Vatican-sanctioned American nun, Sister Jeannine Gramick, on her 50 years of LGBTQ ministry.
That said, Francis also authorized the publication in 2021 of a Vatican document stating that the Catholic Church will not bless same-sex unions because God “cannot bless sin. Francis recently transferred the Vatican official widely believed to be behind the document.