Pic: Jeffrey Bruno
The Vatican says that Pope Francis did not mean to suggest that homosexuality is a mental illness in his recent remarks about gay children.
Pope Francis made the disturbing comment to journalists on a flight to Rome from Dublin this week, where he had attended the World Meeting of Families.
He was asked what advice he would give to a father whose son had come out. While he urged parents to not condemn their gay children and to support them, he also stated that for younger gay children, “there is much that psychiatry can do.”
The Pope added: “But never will I say that silence is a remedy. Ignoring the homosexual son or daughter is a lack of paternity or motherhood. ‘I’m your father, I’m your mother, we talk; I’m not sending you away from the family’.”
The Guardian reports that in the Vatican’s official account of the comments, the reference to psychiatry has been omitted.
A Vatican spokeswoman explained to AFP that this had been erased in order to not “change the thoughts of the Holy Father”.
She said that, “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 it (homosexuality) was a ‘mental illness’.”
The clarification is a welcome one, as his comments could have been seen to mean that homosexuality can be ‘changed’ through the intervention of psychiatrists. Known as “conversion therapy,” this kind of practice is condemned by mental heath bodies worldwide as ineffective, unethical and dangerous.
While Pope Francis has shown a willingness for the Catholic Church to be more accepting of gay individuals he has remained opposed to the recognition of transgender people, same-sex families and same-sex marriages, describing these in public statements as threats to the family and humanity.