Vatican City – The National Catholic register reports that L’Avvenire, the official newspaper of the Italian bishops’ conference, has reported that Pope Francis “at the end of an audience” greeted a group of some 40 people, some of whom identify as LGBT, along with their parents. The pope told the parents that “God loves your children as they are” and “the Church loves your children as they are because they are children of God.” Although none of the reported words from Pope Francis are new, or doctrinally problematic, they have not been confirmed by the Holy See. But the episode drew media attention.

            The Spanish blog Religion Digital, directed by laicized Catholic priest José Manuel Vidal offered its own version of the episode, quoting anonymously one of those who met the pope: “In the painful journey that each one of us have made as LGBT believers, I confess that I would not have imagined that we would have reached this stage; to meet in audience with the Holy Father.” “These are the words of one of the representatives of the Italian association Tenda di Gionata (Jonathan’s Tent), of LGBT parents and children. During the minute-long encounter, Mara Grassi, vice president of the association, presented Pope Francis with a Spanish translation of the booklet Genitori Fortunati (“Fortunate Parents”), a collection of mostly negative experiences that parents of those identifying as LGBT have had with the Catholic church. The groups also presented the pope a rainbow-colored T-shirt with the words “In love there is no fear,” a quote from 1 John 4:18.

            Grassi, a mother of four children, one of whom, who is 40, identifies as gay, told La Repubblicam, “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,” she said. The L’Avvenire version of the meeting was described by journalist Luciano Moia as a historic event. Moia offered this description of the encounter: “In the Church of Pope Francis, who wants to tear down walls and build bridges of acceptance and understanding especially with the most fragile and marginalized people, this morning’s meeting appeared to many parents as an extraordinary turning point . . . ” (The National Catholic Register via Q Notes Online at https://www.ncregister.com/news/analysis-how-a-papal-handshake-became-an-extraordinary-turning-point-for-lgbt-activists}

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