The Catholic Church must help parents stand by their gay children, Pope Francis said in a new interview about his papal ministry. The pontiff’s comments come a day after Francis urged top church officials to pay attention to the “signs of the times” and listen to ordinary Catholics, according to The Independent.
“We come across this reality all the time in the confessional: a father and a mother whose son or daughter is in that situation. This happened to me several times in Buenos Aires.... We have to find a way to help that father or that mother to stand by their son or daughter,” he said in a wide-ranging interview with the Argentine daily La Nación. While it is important to find ways to welcome gay Catholics, gay marriage is still not on the church’s agenda, Francis said.
The pontiff’s remarks were made as part of a larger reflection on the church’s recent Synod of Bishops, which discussed some of the most controversial issues around family life for Catholics. The October gathering revealed fractures in church opinion about adapting traditional teaching to accommodate modern attitudes, according to the BBC. While Francis made a powerful appeal to traditionalists, conservative cardinals prevailed and rejected proposals for wider acceptance of gay people.
Francis also addressed the issue of divorced Catholics, saying they were often treated as though they had been excommunicated. “In the case of divorcées who have remarried, we posed the question: What do we do with them? What door can we allow them to open? This was a pastoral concern: Will we allow them to go to Communion? Communion alone is no solution. The solution is integration. They have not been excommunicated,” he said, according to the National Catholic Reporter.
Since his election as pope in March 2013, Francis has made efforts to reform the church and make it more open, though he has encountered stiff resistance from some traditionalists within the Vatican.