Pope Francis just can’t seem to make up his mind about LGBTQ people.
Weeks after making international headlines for telling a gay sexual abuse survivor he is “loved” by God just as he is, the Pope dismissed the validity of same-sex parenting in unscripted comments made before the Forum delle Famiglie. He told the Italian Catholic family group that not all families are holy.
“It is painful to say this today,” Pope Francis claimed. “People speak of varied families, of various kinds of family… [but] the family [as] man and woman in the image of God is the only one.”
Although the 266th and current Pope has been widely lauded as a reformer on LGBTQ rights, these comments exemplify his hot-and-cold relationship toward queer and transgender communities. While appearing to soften the Vatican Church’s historical opposition to homosexuality and trans identity, he has doubled down on many of the faith’s most homophobic tendencies.
In May, Juan Carlos Cruz—a gay survivor of clerical sex abuse in Argentina—claimed that in a private meeting with Pope Francis, the Catholic leader appeared to tell him that his sexual orientation was divined by God.
“God made you like this and loves you like this and I don’t care,” Cruz claimed Francis told him. “The pope loves you like this.”
In truth, there are two versions of Pope Francis: There’s the Pope who famously remarked “Who am I to judge?” when asked about gay priests in 2013 and claimed LGBTQ people “should not be discriminated against” in 2016. But then there’s the one who called transgender people “against nature,” referring to them as “terrible” and “nasty.”
That version—the one more in line with his predecessor, Pope Benedict—addressed the 71st General Assembly of the Italian Episcopal Conference just days after being applauded around the world for affirming a gay man’s identity. He told church leaders to reject gay seminarians.
“Keep an eye on the admissions to seminaries, keep your eyes open,” Pope Francis said last month, adding: “If in doubt, better not let them enter.”
But the LGBTQ community aren’t the only people the world’s highest ranking Catholic official snubbed his nose at this weekend: His statement praising heterosexual nuclear families also implicitly took aim at divorcees and single parents. Meanwhile, the Pope found time to compare abortion to the Holocaust and encourage women to stay with their cheating partners.
“In the last century, the entire world was scandalised by what the Nazis did to ensure the purity of the race,” Pope Francis said of a woman’s right to choose. “Today we do the same, but with white gloves.”
In his off-the-cuff comments, the religious leader also praised looking past an unfaithful partner’s infidelity—what he termed “the sanctity that forgives all out of love.” He credited the long-suffering women (and sometimes men) who “wait in silence, looking the other way, waiting for their husband to become faithful again.”