Pope Francis told a group of parents of LGBT children that God loves them “as they are” because they are “the children of God.
His remarks were made in a brief encounter with some 40 Italian parents after the public audience in the Renaissance courtyard of San Damaso in the Vatican.
The parents are members of an Italian association called Tenda di Gionata, which means Jonathan’s Tent.
The group, which was founded in 2018, welcomes and provides information and formation to LGBT Christians, their families and pastoral workers.
“God loves your children as they are,” the Pope said to them.
“The Pope loves your children as they are, because they are children of God.”
Mara Grassi, vice president of the support group, together with her husband Agostino Usai, presented the Pope with a booklet titled Genitori Fortunati (Blessed Parents), which documented the experiences of these parents with the church.
The booklet also details the experiences of the parents and their LGBT children, that were at times far from easy, and their requests for acceptance despite all too often being considered “undesirable” by church communities.
“I explained [to the Pope] that we consider ourselves lucky because we have been forced to change the way we have always looked at our children,” she said in an interview.
“What we now have is a new gaze that has allowed us to see the beauty and love of God in them. 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.”
Since the beginning of his pontificate, Pope Francis sought an inclusive, pastoral approach to LGBT Catholics, shifting away from the harsh and condemnatory language used by the Vatican in the past.
After his election in 2013, the Pope was asked about gay priests in which he replied, “who am I to judge?”