KNOCK, Ireland (AP) — Pope Francis says parents of gay children shouldn't condemn them, ignore their orientation or throw them out of the house. Rather, he says they should pray, talk and try to understand.
Speaking to reporters after closing out a Catholic family rally in Ireland, Francis said: "There have always been gay people and people with homosexual tendencies."
Francis was asked what he would tell a father of a child who just came out as gay. Francis said he would first suggest prayer.
"Don't condemn. Dialogue. Understand, give the child space so he or she can express themselves."
Francis said it might be necessary seek psychiatric help if a child begins to exhibit "worrisome" traits, but that it's something else if an adult comes out as gay.
He urged parents not to respond with silence. "Ignoring child with this tendency shows a lack of motherhood and fatherhood."
He said: "This child has the right to a family. And the family not throwing him out."
The pope also defended his procedures to hold bishops accountable for covering up priestly sex abuse, saying a tribunal isn't necessary and that his ad-hoc approach works better.
Francis was asked en route home from Ireland on Sunday about demands from abuse survivors to implement his 2015 decision to create a tribunal section inside the Vatican to judge negligent bishops.
Francis scrapped the idea in 2016 and instead laid out legal procedures to use the existing Vatican bureaucracy to investigate complaints, and then for a college of legal experts to weigh in and advise the pope.
Francis said a full-fledged tribunal "wasn't viable or convenient because of the different cultures of the bishops who must be judged." Instead, he said the ad-hoc jury system "works better" and that "several" bishops had already been judged.
He declined to confirm or deny claims by the Vatican's retired U.S. ambassador that he briefed the pope in 2013 about sexual misconduct allegations against disgraced ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick.
Francis said the 11-page text by Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, which reads as a homophobic manifesto and attack on Francis allies in parts, "speaks for itself" and that he wouldn't comment on it.