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Pope Francis tells parents not to condemn children with different sexual orientations


VATICAN – Pope Francis on Jan. 26 told parents not to condemn children who have different sexual orientations.

“Never condemn your children,” said Francis, who said that parents should accompany such children and “not hide behind an attitude of condemnation.”

The pope’s unscripted words came at his weekly general audience, and they are just another example of Francis’ tricky tightrope dance between affirming church teaching on homosexuality and attempting to give a warmer welcome to LGBTQ people.

According to the Catholic Catechism, homosexual acts are “intrinsically disordered,” and last year Francis issued a decree prohibiting priests from blessing gay couples, stating that God “cannot bless sin.”

At the same time, Francis has often stated his support for civil union laws for same-sex couples. In recent months, Francis has also written a series of letters congratulating a nun for her LGBTQ outreach mission, as well as thanking priests and religious women who have served HIV and AIDS patients.

During his brief message to pilgrims gathered in the Pope Paul VI audience hall at the Vatican, Francis also addressed the challenges that parents face when raising children with disabilities and illnesses, children who struggle in school, and “children who have fun with their cars and end up in accidents.”

He went on to describe his personal experiences in Argentina, where he saw moms waiting to see their imprisoned children.

“It made me so tender when in Buenos Aires I went by bus in front of the prison and there was a queue of people who had to enter for visits. And there were mothers there,” he said. “This mother faced with the problem of a son who made a mistake, does not leave him alone.”

Last November, Francis began a series of reflections on St. Joseph, Jesus’ father, whose life of faith the pope said serves as a specific example during a global pandemic.

On January 26, Francis reflected on Joseph’s reaction to Mary’s unexpected pregnancy as the mother of Jesus.

“The Lord never allows a problem to arise without also giving us the help we need to deal with it,” he said.

The pope also used the occasion to make an appeal for peace in the Ukraine, as the country faces a potential invasion from Russia. Francis had previously declared Jan. 26 a day of prayer for peace in the Ukraine.

They are a suffering people,” the pope said of the Ukrainians. “They have suffered hunger, they have suffered so much cruelty and they deserve peace.”

“May the prayers and invocations that are being raised today up to heaven touch the minds and hearts of those responsible on earth,” he continued.

“Please, never war,” Francis pleaded.

At the conclusion of the audience, Francis did not engage in his customary greeting to those present, saying he wanted to avoid the stairs due to an inflammation of his right knee.

“It’s a passing thing,” said the 85-year-old pope. “They say that this only happens to the old, I don’t know why it happened to me!”

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