Pope Francis’ recent praise of a children’s book about gay penguins should not be considered an endorsement of “behaviour and teachings that are not in accordance with the Gospel,” says the Vatican.
Italian author Frachesca Pardi’s book, Piccolo Uova (Little Egg) tells the story of a same-sex penguin couple who adopt an egg. In June the book was banned from schools, along with 50 other titles, by Venice’s mayor Luigi Brugnaro.
“We do not want to discriminate against children,” said Brugnaro. “At home parents can be called Dad One and Dad Two, but I have to think about the majority of families where there is a mother and a father.”
The move prompted outrage from Italian authors, 263 of whom send a letter to Brugnaro’s office asking for their books to be banned also. “kindly ban our books as well”, read the letter. “We don’t want to stay in a city where the books of others are banned”.
Pardi was surprised receive a letter from Pope Francis praising her work last month. The letter a response to a bundle of LGBT-themed children’s books sent to the pontiff, along with a letter detailing the hostility directed at Pardi as a result of the book ban, reports The Guardian.
“His holiness is grateful for the thoughtful gesture and for the feelings which it evoked, hoping for an always more fruitful activity in the service of young generations and the spread of genuine human and Christian values,” wrote Peter B Wells, a senior official at the Vatican secretariat of state.
However, the Vatican has been quick to clarify Pope Francis’ letter shouldn’t be considered an endorsement.
“The Secretariat of State does not want in any way to back behaviours and teachings not in accordance with the Gospel,” said Fr. Ciro Benedettini, deputy director of the Holy See Press Office.
Thanking people and offering a blessing is the standard response given to those who send the Pope gifts, added Benedettini.
He added that the Church’s position on gender ideology “has not changed, as the Holy Father reiterated many times,” and that using the contents of the letter to suggest otherwise “is completely out of place.”
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