Pope Francis met with parents of LGBTQ+ children, and reassured them that all are loved and welcome in the Catholic Church. The parents were part of La Tenda di Gionata, an LGBTQ+ Christian support group, and met with the Pope to share their stories of being turned away by their local parishes. While the Catholic Church has a checkered history regarding LGBTQ+ rights and inclusion, according to Avvenire Pope Francis expressed only his love.
“The Pope loves your children as they are, because they are children of God,” Pope Francis said according to a translation.
One parent told the Pope that she and the other parents considered themselves lucky because they had been forced to changed the way they looked at their children.
“What we have now is a new gaze that has allowed us to see in them the beauty and love of God,” said Mara Grassi, vice president of La Tenda di Gionata. “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.”
The Pope’s response to the mother of four, one of whom is gay, was warm and reassuring.
“The Church does not exclude them because she loves them deeply,” she recalled him saying.
La Tenda di Gionata is an LGBTQ+ support group for queer people of faith who have not found acceptance within the Catholic Church. The group hopes to serve as a “two-way bridge” which can foster dialogue between the Church and the LGBTQ+ community.
Grassi and the other parents gave Pope Francis a copy of the book, Fortunate Families, which tells of the experiences of ostracized folks and children of faith. They also gave him a shirt with the words “In love there is no fear,” a verse from the New Testament.
Pope Francis and the Catholic Church have a mixed record when it comes to the LGBTQ+ community. While a recent report indicated the clergy is 30 to 40 percent gay, Pope Francis gave an interview in 2018 where he described gay clergy as “a very serious matter that must be properly discerned” and that holy gays are making homosexuality “fashionable.”