Pope Francis urged parents on Wednesday not to condemn their children if they are gay in his latest gesture of outreach to the LGBT community, long been marginalised by the Catholic hierarchy.
Francis spoke off the cuff during his weekly Wednesday general audience dedicated to the figure of St. Joseph, the father of Jesus.
"Parents who see that their children have different sexual orientations should not hide behind a condemning attitude," Francis said.
Official church teaching calls for gay men and lesbians to be respected and loved, but considers homosexual activity "intrinsically disordered."
Francis has sought to make the church more open, most famously with his 2013 comment: "Who am I to judge?"
He has spoken of his own ministry to gay and transgender people.
Francis has also made several gestures of outreach to the gay Catholic community and their advocates, including a recent letter congratulating an American nun once sanctioned by the Vatican, Sister Jeannine Gramick, on her 50 years of LGBTQ+ ministry.
However, Francis also allowed the 2021 publication of a document from the Vatican asserting that the Catholic Church won't bless same-sex unions because God "cannot bless sin".
He recently transferred the Vatican official widely believed to have been behind the document.