Pope Francis reassured parents of LGBT children that “God loves your children as they are,” and that there is a place in the church for them, according to a report.
“The church loves your children as they are because they are children of God,” the pontiff told the group, according to a report in the Jesuit weekly America Magazine.
The exchange came during a meeting last week with “Tenda di Gionata,” or “Jonathan’s Tent,” an Italian group of Christian parents of LBGT children founded in 2018, the magazine said.
A group of about 40 parents met briefly with the pope last week in the courtyard of San Damaso at the Vatican — with the parents presenting the pontiff with a rainbow-colored T-shirt that read, “In love, there is no fear.”
They also gave the pope a book titled “Genitori Fortunati,” or “Fortunate Parents,” which documents their difficulties fitting into the Catholic Church.
“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,” Mara Grassi, the group’s vice-president, told the pope.
Grassi later told the Italian newspaper La Repubblica she had “very strong emotions” during the visit, America said.
“For many years I was like a blind person,” 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. Nobody helped me.”
The group grew out of a church vigil in the northern city of Reggio Emilia, where Grassi met several other parents of LGBTQ children — inspired by the preaching of the Rev. Paolo Cugini, who believes that “faith and homosexuality are not in opposition.”
The Catholic Church has long struggled with the acceptance of gay parishioners. Last year, a Polish archbishop pronounced during a sermon in Warsaw that the country was under siege from a “rainbow plague” sparked by gay rights advocates.