Parents of LGBT children have been told by Pope Francis that God loves them, in a further sign of modernity for the Catholic church.
The religious leader spoke to the mothers and fathers of 40 LGBT youngsters from the Italian association, Tenda di Gionata, which means Jonathan’s Tent.
Members of the group welcome LGBT Christians, their families and pastoral workers and it provides them with support and information.
It was founded in 2018 by a group of people inspired by a Catholic priest, the late Reverend David Esposito, of the Diocese of Fermo, in the Marches region of Italy.
Mara Grassi, vice president of the association, along with her husband Agostino Usai presented the Pope with a booklet entitled Genitori Fortunati (Fortunate Parents).
Pope Francis has reassured the parents of LGBT children that God loved them
The booklet documented the experiences of the parents of LGBT children with the church.
It stated that many of the experiences were difficult and that, despite seeking to be accepted by the church, they were too often seen as undesirables.
Mara told Pope Francis: ‘We wish to create a bridge to the church so that the church too can change its way of looking at our children, no longer excluding them but fully welcoming them.’
The Pope met the parents’ group following the public audience in the Renaissance courtyard of San Damaso in the Vatican.
Speaking to Avvenire, the daily paper of the Italian Bishops’ Conference, she said: ‘our association aims to foster dialogue between the church and the families of LGBT (people).
‘We consider ourselves fortunate because we had to change the way that we had always looked at our children.
‘We found a new way of looking that enabled us to see in them the beauty and love of God.’
Members of the Jonathan’s Tent group met the Pope to discuss religion and LGBT people
Mara revealed that she is the mother of four children, the oldest who is gay, and that she did not feel that the church accepted him.
She said: ‘After I came to know that my son was homosexual, I suffered a lot because the rules of the church made me think that he was excluded from the love of God.’
The group gave the Pope a rainbow coloured T-shirt with the words ‘In Love There Is No Fear’ on it.
He told them: ‘The church does not exclude them because she loves them deeply.
‘God loves our children because they are all children of God. The church loves our children as they are.’