UPDATE: The Guardian website revealed today that The Vatican erased Pope Francis’ remarks suggesting gay children be brought to a psychiatrist from their official accounts. Some had doubted initial reports of the story as the published statement had removed any reference to psychiatry, but The Vatican later admitted to the erasure. The story states that when questioned about the removal, a spokesperson confusingly said the changes had been made to not “change the thoughts of the Holy Father”.
Pope Francis’ contentious Irish visit came to a controversial end with the pontiff suggesting gay children be brought to a psychiatrist.
While on the plane which would bring him back to the Vatican, a reporter asked what advice he would give to a father whose son told him he was gay. The response was at first heartening – “I would say first of all to pray. Then, to not condemn, to talk, to understand, to make space for the son or daughter,” but went on to present a more worrying underlying belief: “Then it depends on the age…it is one thing if it’s manifested in children, there are many things one can do with a psychiatrist. It is another if it’s manifested in your 20s.”
While he finished by saying “Ignoring a son or daughter who has homosexual tendencies is an error of fatherhood or motherhood,” the fact he believes parents should involve a psychiatrist isn’t too far away from the Catholic church’s teaching that gay people are “intrinsically disordered”.
An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar
During Pope Francis’ visit, Leo Varadkar delivered a speech in Dublin Castle adressing the history of abuses carried out by those claiming to represent the Catholic Church. Highlighting amongst others Magdalene Laundries, Mother and Baby Homes and those who suffered clerical abuse, An Taoiseach said “In place of Christian charity, forgiveness and compassion, far too often there was judgment, severity and cruelty, in particular, towards women and children and those on the margins.”
He continued: “The wounds are still open and there is much to be done to bring about justice and truth and healing for victims and survivors. We ask that you use your office and influence to ensure this is done here in Ireland and also across the world.”
Vardkar stressed that while he hoped this would be the beginning of a new relationship between Ireland and the Catholic Church, it would be one with religion “no longer at the centre of our society, but one in which it still has an important place”.
Minister Katherine Zappone
Minister Katherine Zappone has revealed she spoke to Pope Francis about the Tuam mother and baby home during their short meeting at Áras an Uachtaran. The Tuam case involved the horrific discovery of the remains of 796 children in a septic tank on the grounds of a “maternity home” for unmarried mothers.
Speaking in Italian, the openly lesbian Minister for Children and Youth Affairs said: “I am responsible for the Tuam mother and baby home, children’s remains were found in the sewage system there. I hope the church will make reparation for its part in this shameful chapter.”
She continued: “It is important and I will write to you in detail. He looked into my eyes and said thank you for saying that.”
Although Minister Zappone said there was a “clear sense of recognition” on the Pope’s face when she mentioned Tuam, the pontiff would later say during a speech at Dublin Castle “I had never heard of these mothers, they call it the laundromat of women where an unwed woman is pregnant and goes into these hospitals, I don’t know what they call them, schools, run by the nuns and then they gave children to the people in adoption.”
The papal visit took place in conjunction with the World Meeting of Families which received criticism for its rejection of LGBT+ people of faith.
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