Vatican Says Pope's Remarks on Children of Same-Sex, Divorced Couples Not Indicative of Change in Policy

The Vatican media spokesman warned Sunday against misinterpreting Pope Francis’s comments about children of same-sex and divorced couples during a meeting of leaders of male religious orders in November.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi told Vatican Radio that the pope’s comments reflecting the challenges of reaching out to children in a changing society were not intended to give that society a stamp of approval.

On Saturday, an AFP story announced “Pope Calls for Fresh Church Approach to Children of Gay Parents,” and said that the pope was calling for a “rethink in the way the Catholic Church deals with the children of gay couples and divorced parents.”

The article cited Pope Francis’s words in July, “If someone is gay and seeks the Lord with good will, who am I to judge?” and the fact that The Advocate, a gay advocacy publication, had chosen the pontiff as its “Person of the Year” in December.

The Vatican news website features an article written by Antonio Spadaro, SJ, the editor of La Civiltà Cattolica, the Rome-based Jesuit weekly, which recounts the private meeting between Pope Francis and the religious superiors.

The article, entitled “Wake up the World: Conversation with Pope Francis About the Religious Life,” states that the pope discussed some of his experiences in Buenos Aires regarding children:

And he recalled some of his experiences in Buenos Aires regarding the preparation necessary to welcome children in an educational context, little boys and girls, young adults who live in complex situations, especially family ones: “I remember the case of a very sad little girl who finally confided to her teacher the reason for her state of mind: ‘my mother’s fiancé doesn’t like me.’ The percentage of children studying in schools who have separated parents is very high. The situation in which we live now provides us with new challenges which sometimes are difficult for us to understand. How can we proclaim Christ to these boys and girls? How can we proclaim Christ to a generation that is changing? We must be careful not to administer a vaccine against faith to them.”

According to Jimmy Akin writing at the National Catholic Register, the original story, which was published by the Agence Frances-Presse (AFP) stated:

Pope Francis has called for a rethink in the way the Catholic Church deals with the children of gay couples and divorced parents, warning against "administering a vaccine against faith” . . ..

"I remember a case in which a sad little girl confessed to her teacher: 'my mother's girlfriend doesn't love me'," he was quoted as saying.

As Akin writes, “This – together with the headline the story ran under – seeks to convey the impression of some kind of dramatic change in regard to the Church’s pastoral practice concerning the children being raised by homosexual couples.”

In addition, Akin warns that Spadaro’s article is not an official transcript of the meeting, but a recounted summary of the event with quotations from the pope.

Akin observes a key translation issue with the original story using the phrase, “my mother’s girlfriend,” implying a lesbian relationship, and Spadaro’s use of the phrase, “my mother’s fiancé,” which is the masculine form of the word. The fact that Francis is quoted as making the statement, “The percentage of children studying in schools who have separated parents is very high,” immediately after the phrase suggests he is speaking about the daughter of a woman who is engaged to a man after a prior marriage.

However, as Akin notes, the original Italian uses the word, “la fidanzata,” which is the feminine form of the word and would indicate a female partner.

Lombardi, however, said Sunday that the notion that use of that example by the pope implies a change in the practices of the Church is inconsistent:

Speaking of an “opening to gay couples” is paradoxical because the pope’s speech was totally general and because even the small concrete example given by the Pope (a girl who is sad because her mother’s girlfriend doesn’t love her) alludes directly to the suffering of the children.

As Breitbart News reported Saturday, a Maltese bishop reported that, in a private conversation with Pope Francis about his country’s proposed legislation to allow same-sex couples to adopt children, the pontiff affirmed to him his previous statement that same-sex marriage is “an anthropological regression.”


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