Pope Francis met with a group of around 40 parents of LGBTQ kids on Wednesday in Rome. The parents are members of the group, Tenda di Gionata (which translates as Jonathan’s Tent). Founded in 2018, it’s like an Italian, faith-based version of PFLAG.
According to Avvenire.it the parents spoke to the Pope, 82, about the challenges they felt as the parents of LGBTQ children – especially when so many members of the Catholic church condemn their children.
The group’s vice president, Mara Grassi, along with her husband, presented the Pope with a Spanish-language copy of their book about their journey, entitled Lucky Parents. Others also presented him with letters detailing their own struggles reconciling their faith with having gay children. Some said their offspring had felt the need to leave the church because of its statements on sexuality.
“My son chose to be agnostic to safeguard himself,” said one testimony. “The official ecclesial documents he studied for his thesis in Cultural Anthropology were his crown of thorns.”
Grassi later said the purpose of the meeting was because, “Our association wants to start a dialogue between the Church and families with LGBT children.
“Taking a cue from the title of the book we presented to him, I explained that we consider ourselves lucky because we have been forced to change the way in which we have always looked at our children. We now look at them in a way that allows us to see the beauty and love of God in them.”
She continued, “We want to create a bridge with the Church, so that the Church too can change the way it looks upon our children, no longer excluding them but welcoming them fully.”
Pope Francis responded, “The Church does not exclude them because she loves them deeply.”
The group also gave the Pope a rainbow-colored T-shirt with the Biblical quote: “In love there is no fear” (1 John, 4, 18).
Grassi said the Pope, “Looked and smiled – a moment of deep harmony that we will not forget.”
According to Religión Digital, the Pope ended the meeting by saying, “The Church loves your children as they are, because they are children of God.”
Grassi told La Repubblica, “He told us that the Lord and the Church love our children because they are all children of God. For me and for all of us it was a great light after difficult and dark years.”
In 2016, the Pope made headlines when he refused to condemn gay priests, saying, “If they [gay priests] accept the Lord and have goodwill, who am I to judge them? They shouldn’t be marginalized. The tendency [same-sex attraction] is not the problem… they’re our brothers.”
However, whether his words this week lead to any official shift on the Catholic church’s position remains to be seen. It recognizes marriage as between a man and woman only and regards gay sex as a sin, with homosexual acts described in its catechism (#2357) as, “intrinsically disordered … contrary to natural law.”