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Pope Francis says gay children should seek psychiatric help

The Vatican later censored the comments, saying the pontiff didn't mean to imply homosexuality is a mental illness.

By Will Stroude

Pope Francis has suggested that gay children should seek psychiatirc help, in comments which were later censored by the Vatican.

The pope made the remark to journalists while flying back to Rome from his official visit to Ireland this weekend, before the Vatican removed the statement from its official transcript, insisting the pontiff didn’t mean to imply that homosexuality is a mental illness, the Guardian reports.

Asked what he would say to parents of children who appear to be gay, Pope Francis replied: “I would say first of all pray, not to condemn, to dialogue, to understand, to give space to the son or the daughter.”

He continued: “When it shows itself from childhood, there is a lot that can be done through psychiatry, to see how things are. It is something else if it shows itself after 20 years.”

“Ignoring a son or daughter who has homosexual tendencies is an error of fatherhood or motherhood.”

When the pope’s response was later published by the Vatican, the reference to psychiatry had been removed.

A Vatican spokeswoman later told AFP that omission had been made in order to not “change the thoughts of the Holy Father”.

“When the pope referred to ‘psychiatry’, it is clear that he was doing it to highlight an example of ‘things that can be done’,” she said.

“But with that word he didn’t mean to say that it (homosexuality) was a ‘mental illness’.”

Since assuming his position as head of the Catholice Church in 2013, Pope Francis has often appeared to soften the Church’s language owards the LGBT community, insisting that people of all sexual orientations “ought to be respected.”

However, despite making headlines for seemingly benevolent statements regarding LGBT people – which includes reportedly telling a gay man that his “sexuality does not matter” earlier this year – the Pope has remained a staunch opposer of same-sex marriage and parenting, insisting that “the family [as] man and woman in the image of God is the only one.”