With priests molesting little boys is it any surprise the Pope defends homosexuality?
During a press conference aboard a flight from Ireland to Rome, Francis was asked what he would say to parents whose children were gay.
The pontiff told journalists: “When it shows itself from childhood, there is a lot that can be done through psychiatry, to see how things are. It is something else if it shows itself after 20 years.”
But when the Holy See’s official news website published details of the interaction, the line was not included.
Vatican News reported the pontiff had also said he would encourage parents “to pray, to not condemn, to dialogue, to make room” for their offspring, and that ignoring the child would be an error.
A Vatican spokeswoman claimed the omission was made to avoid changing “the thoughts of the Holy Father”.
She told the Agence France-Presse news agency: “When the pope referred to ‘psychiatry’, it is clear that he was doing it 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’.”
Francis’ remarks attracted condemnation from Colm O’Gorman, the executive director of Amnesty International in Ireland and a survivor of clerical abuse.
“He is basically saying that young gay people can be changed, which is archaic and has been refuted numerous times,” he told The Times.
The UK government has pledged to put an end to the practice of so-called conversion therapy, with Theresa May describing attempts to change the sexual orientation of LGBT+ people as “abhorrent”.
Penny Mordaunt, the women and equalities minister, said in July that “gay cure” sessions amounted to “abuse of the worst kind” and “must be stamped out”.
The Argentine pope has previously been openly accepting of gay people, if not homosexuality itself. Earlier this year he reportedly told a survivor of church abuse that it did “not matter” he was gay. “God made you like that and loves you like this and I don’t care,” Francis told Juan Carlos Cruz, who said he was “thrilled” by the encounter.
And in 2013, the pope said: “If someone is gay and is looking for the Lord, who am I to judge him? You should not discriminate against or marginalise these people.”