Pope Francis tells parents of LGBT children: Love them as they are
Speaking to a group of Italian parents who have LGBT children, Pope Francis told them that they should love their children as they are because they are “children of God.”
The 40 parents who met the Pope in a groundbreaking meeting were members of the LGBT Catholic parents’ organisation Tenda di Gionata (“Jonathan’s Tent”).
The Pope met with them after the public audience in the Renaissance courtyard of San Damaso in the Vatican.
Pope Francis meets parents of LGBT children
In a report by Avvenire, the daily paper of the Italian Bishops’ Conference, the parents met with the Pope to tell him their concerns about the Roman Catholic Church’s disregard for their queer children when they came out.
The group also gave him letters by parents of LGBT children detailing their journeys to acceptance despite the Church’s stance on LGBT people.
Mara Grassi, the group’s vice president, gave the Pope a copy of the book, Genitori Fortunati (“Fortunate Families”), by Mary Ellen Lopata, about the experiences of Catholic parents of queer children.
The Pope also received a rainbow-colored t-shirt with the words, “In love, there is no fear.”
Pope Francis told the parents, “Love your children as they are, because they are children of God.”
He also gave a reassurance that, “The Church does not exclude them because she loves them deeply.”
Group wants to bridge LGBT people with the Church
After their event, Grassi said their group– wan outreach ministry for LGBT Christians and their families– wants to be a bridge between the LGBT people and the Catholic Church by building a dialogue.
“Taking a cue from the title of the book we presented to him, I explained that we consider ourselves lucky because we have been forced to change the way we have always looked at our children,” Grassi said.
“What we now have is a new gaze that has allowed us to see the beauty and love of God in them,” she added.
She further said, “We want to create a bridge with the church so that the Church too can change its gaze towards our children, no longer excluding them but welcoming them fully.”
Grassi described the meeting with the Pope “a moment of deep harmony that we will not forget.”
The Church and Pope Francis’s position on LGBT people
Pope Francis, who ascended the position in 2013, had declared his approach on homosexuality by saying that if a person “is gay and is searching for the Lord and has good will… Who am I to judge?
In 2018, he told reporters the Church has to find a way to help parents of LGBT so that they “stand by” their children. He also said he’d advise a parent whose child has come out to pray.
“Do not condemn. Dialogue. Understand. Make space for the son or daughter; make space so they express themselves, the Pope said.
“I would never say that silence is a solution. Ignoring a son or daughter with homosexual tendencies is to neglect giving them paternity and maternity,” he said.