Pope tells parents to support gay children

Pope Francis said Wednesday that parents of children with different sexual orientations should not condemn them, but instead offer them support.

The pope spoke in unscripted comments at his weekly audience about difficulties parents can face.

POPE FRANCIS (Italian): "...parents who see different sexual orientations in their children and how to handle this, how to accompany their children, and not hide behind an attitude of condemnation."

He has previously said that gay people have a right to be accepted by their families as children and siblings.

And while he has also said that the Church cannot accept same-sex marriage, he's said it can support civil union laws aimed at giving gay partners some joint rights.

Last year, however, the Vatican's doctrinal office issued a document saying that Catholic priests cannot bless same-sex unions, a ruling that greatly disappointed gay Catholics.

In some countries, like Germany and the U.S., ministers had begun blessing same-sex unions in lieu of marriage, and there have been calls for bishops to de facto institutionalize these.

But conservatives in the 1.3 billion-member Church have said the pope is giving mixed signals on homosexuality, confusing some of the faithful.

Last month, a Vatican department apologized "for causing pain to the entire LGBTQ community" for removing a link to resources from a Catholic gay rights advocacy group from its website.

The Catholic church teaches that homosexuals should be treated with respect and that, while same-sex acts are sinful, same-sex tendencies are not.

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