The Vatican says Pope Francis didn’t mean to call homosexuality a mental illness.

A few days after Pope Francis told reporters that gay parents and the kids should seek psychiatric help. The Vatican has come forward with an attempt to correct his widely frowned upon comments. The head of the Catholic Church made the comments while on the plane back from his diplomatic visit to Ireland. While speaking to journalists, he was asked what he would say to a father whose son came out as gay.

He responded: “I would say first of all to pray – then, to not condemn, to talk, to understand, to make space for the son or daughter.

“Then, it depends on the age… it is one thing if it’s manifested in children, there are many things one can do with a psychiatrist.”

He added: “To ignore a son or daughter with homosexual tendencies [shows] a lack of fatherhood or motherhood.”

People were outraged because aside from all his supportive comments he went on to equate homosexuality with mental illness. In a bus to repair the damage, The Vatican has now removed the pontiff’s reference to psychiatry from its account of the interview, according to AFP.

A spokeswoman said: “When the Pope referred to ‘psychiatry’, it is clear that he was doing so to highlight an example of ‘things that can be done.’

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

The Oxford English Dictionary defines psychiatry as “the study and treatment of mental illness, emotional disturbance, and abnormal behaviour.” So one has to wonder what The Pope meant by using it now that The Vatican calls his statement a mistake.

Pope Francis who has clearly earned a reputation as a moderniser has been met with criticism. Some critics have accused him of failing to turn words into actions, given the Catholic Church’s poor record on LGBT+ rights across the globe.

Ireland’s Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Leo Varadkar called for acceptance of LGBT+ families during his visit, following reports that the World Meeting of Families attended by the Pope had blocked participation from Catholic LGBT+ groups and censored depictions of same-sex parents in events literature. The Pope’s trip to Ireland was also fraught with controversy amid accusations that he ignored sexual abuse allegations against prominent US cardinal Theodore McCarrick.

With all these theories, corrections and statements flying around, one has to ask if it is really that had to maintain a straight forward stance on LGBTQ acceptance. Hopefully we would soon get to hear the true meaning and intentions behind his psychiatric statement from Pope Francis himself.

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