Pope Francis has warned that the church must be careful to not alienate the children of same-sex couples and children with parents who have separated or it will risk turning them away from the Catholic faith.
‘On an educational level, gay unions raise challenges for us today which for us are sometimes difficult to understand,' Pope Francis said in a speech to the Catholic women’s Union of Superiors General in November that has only now been published in the Italian media.
‘The number of children in schools whose parents have separated is very high,’ Pope Francis said in the speech.
‘I remember a case in which a sad little girl confessed to her teacher: “my mother's girlfriend doesn't love me”.’
Pope Francis said that a greater diversity in people’s family arrangements posed the question to the church and Catholic educators of, ‘how can we proclaim Christ to a generation that is changing?’
‘We must be careful not to administer a vaccine against faith to them.’
Pope Francis began a year long consultation with the global Catholic community into how Catholics should approach a range of moral issues including homosexuality and same-sex relationships in October last year – shortly before he made the speech to the Union of Superiors General.
Among the questions for parishes around same-sex couples are, ‘What pastoral attention can be given to people who have chosen to live in [same-sex unions]?’
‘In the case of unions of persons of the same sex who have adopted children, what can be done pastorally in light of transmitting the faith?’
The Union of Superiors General is the highest women's organization in the Catholic Church.