On his way back from his bruising visit to Ireland, a beleaguered Pope Francis was plunged into yet another row – this time for suggesting that parents should seek psychiatric help for their gay children.
According to this report, during a press conference aboard a flight from Ireland to Rome, Francis was asked what he would say to parents whose children were gay.
He told journalists:
When it shows itself from childhood, there is a lot that can be done through psychiatry, to see how things are. It is something else if it shows itself after 20 years.
But when the Holy See’s official news website published details of the interaction, the line was not included. A Vatican spokeswoman said:
When the pope referred to ‘psychiatry’, it is clear that he was doing it 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’.
Francis’ remarks attracted condemnation from Colm O’Gorman, the Executive Director of Amnesty International in Ireland and a survivor of clerical abuse.
He is basically saying that young gay people can be changed, which is archaic and has been refuted numerous times.
Ryan Butcher, in an Independent op-ed, wrote that the Pope was:
Inadvertently right. Most LGBT+ people would benefit from counselling or advice from a mental-health specialist – but it’s nothing to do with their sexuality or their gender identity. It’s because of people like Pope Francis continually regurgitating this toxic rhetoric that there’s something wrong with us.
The UK government has pledged to put an end to the practice of so-called conversion therapy, with Prime Minister Theresa May describing attempts to change the sexual orientation of LGBT+ people as “abhorrent”.
Penny Mordaunt, the Women and Equalities Minister, said in July that “gay cure” sessions amounted to “abuse of the worst kind” and “must be stamped out”.