Since the beginning of his tenure, Pope Francis has been heralded as one of the most progressive heads of the Catholic church ever. During a conversation with reporters after a Catholic family rally in Ireland, Pope Francis dealt another blow to more traditional values when he said parents of LGBTQ youth shouldn’t condemn their kids, but try and listen to them and understand what they’re going through.
The statement followed a question posed to the pope about what he would tell the father of a child who just came out as gay. Back in May, Francis told a gay man that he accepted his orientation because “God made you like this,” but this week was the first time he extended that empathetic sentiment to kids and their parents, in particular.
“There have always been gay people and people with homosexual tendencies,” Francis told the group of reporters. He then suggested that parents who are struggling with the fact that their children are part of the LGBTQ community should first pray about what to do.
For many Catholics raising children in 2018, it can be difficult to reconcile their personal values with the strict moral doctrine associated with the church. But Francis has tried to ease a lot of those tensions. He’s come out in support of the larger LGBTQ community, spoken against the death penalty, and even questioned the idea that people go to hell for being non-Christians. Pope Francis was similarly understanding during his press session in Ireland.
“Don’t condemn. Dialogue. Understand, give the child space so he or she can express themselves,” he said before telling parents that “ignoring child with this tendency shows a lack of motherhood and fatherhood.”
For Pope Francis, keeping a family together is more important than anything, telling reporters: “This child has the right to a family. And the family not throwing him out.”