Meeting privately this week with
bishops in Poland, Pope Francis said that it was “terrible” that
schools were teaching children that they can choose their gender.
“Today, in schools they are teaching
this to children – to children! – that everyone can choose their
gender,” Francis said, according to a transcript released by the
Vatican on Tuesday.
“This is terrible,” he added.
A leading organization of LGBT
Catholics lamented Francis' comments.
“It's very troubling that the pope
would say this,” Marianne Duddy-Burke, executive director of
DignityUSA, told The
New York Times. “It also shows that the pope doesn't
understand the danger that his words can mean for
gender-nonconforming people, particularly those who live in countries
with laws or culture pressures that put these people at risk for
Pope Francis suggested that influential
donors and countries, which he did not name, were behind such
The Rev. Thomas J. Reese, a Jesuit
priest and senior analyst for The National Catholic Reporter,
told the Times that Francis “feels that this kind of stuff
is being pushed down their throats.”
Sarah McBride, a spokeswoman for the
Human Rights Campaign (HRC), said that there have been times “where
[Pope Francis has] demonstrated compassion [to transgender people].
Then there have been other times where his words have been not only
hurtful, and frankly harmful, but really demonstrating a
misunderstanding of what it means to be transgender.”
McBride to DNC delegates: “I am a proud transgender American.”)