The Guardian revealed on Tuesday 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”.
A spokeswoman said: “When the Pope referred to ‘psychiatry’, it is clear that he was doing so to highlight an example of ‘things that can be done.’
“But with that word he didn’t mean to say that (homosexuality) was a ‘mental illness.’”
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.”
The full transcript of his in-flight press conference was published by Catholic News Agency, read here.
The LGBT+ community has responded to the Pope’s comments, Justin McAleese said that there are many priests and nuns who are disappointed with the official Church’s position on homosexuality, which is “more concerned with rules, regulations and so-called doctrine than the commandment to love.”
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”.
”The Roman Catholic Church operates on the ignorant assumption that homosexuality is a lifestyle choice and a curable aberration,” Justin McAleese, an Irish politician and LGBT+ rights activist, told PinkNews.
“These views are so far out of kilter with contemporary understanding and are so dangerous for the adolescent members of the Church and those who receive their education services worldwide from the Church. They have to be challenged on these views both internally and externally,” he added.
“Our final port of call on honeymoon was to a group of nuns who I have known for years. All they wanted to hear about was the ceremony and the party and were so full of love for the pair of us—this is the real Church,” he said.
“My message to parents of LGBT children and LGBT children themselves is that God made us this way—so stand up, be proud and remember that Jesus has a lot more in common with Pride festivals across the world than the World Meeting Families,” McAleese said.
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