Pope Francis has reportedly praised a gay children’s book that was recently banned in schools by the mayor of Venice.
Francesca Pardi’s Piccolo Uovo (Little Egg) features gay and lesbian animals and families. The book was among 49 titles to be banned in schools by Mayor Luigi Brugnaro, prompting a backlash from residents, Italian authors and even Sir Elton John, who told his Instagram followers that "beautiful Venice is indeed sinking, but not as fast as the boorishly bigoted Brugnaro”.
The backlash led to the list of 49 banned backs being reduced to just two; Pardi's Piccolo Uovo and Ophélie Texier’s Jean a deux mamans (Jean Has Two Mummies).
Its author had sent Francis a collection of books from her publisher, a number of which contained gay themes, along with a letter describing the criticism she had received from parish leaders over the books. "We have respect for Catholics," she wrote. "A lot of Catholics give back the same respect, why can’t we have the whole hierarchy of the church behind us?”
Peter B Wells, a senior official at the Vatican secretariat of state, responded: “His holiness is grateful for the thoughtful gesture and for the feelings which it evoked, hoping for an always more fruitful activity in the service of young generations and the spread of genuine human and Christian values."
Pope Francis has notably taken a more liberal stance on homosexuality, divorce and other issues that have been staunchly condemned by his predecessors. While Pope Benedict XVI had suggested being gay was to destroy the "essence of the human creature", Francis famously told the world shortly after he was elected as the head of the Catholic Church: “If someone is gay and searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?”
The letter is not a signal of his outright support of homosexuality or the book however, and the Pontiff has yet to speak against doctrine condemning same-sex relationships.
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