Historically, the Church (and also the church) has not been a friendly place for the LGBTQ community and those who wish to love and support them. People choose the Bible verse that condemns homosexuality over the many dozens that preach compassion, and until recently, leadership in the church has backed up that choice.

Now, though, we have a different sort of pope, and he has a different sort of take on it.

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According to AmericaPope Francis told a group of around 40 parents of LGBTQ kids “God loves your children as they are, and the church loves your children as they are because they are children of God.”

The group, Tenda di Gionata (Jonathan’s Tent), is a support group for LGBTQ Christians, their families, and interested pastoral workers, and was founded to advocate for the community within the structure of the church.

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After the meeting with the pope, which was a huge deal, vice president Mara Grassi made a statement:

“We consider ourselves fortunate because we had to change the way that we had always looked at our children. We found a new way of looking that enabled us to see in them the beauty and love of God.”

When she met the pope, she said “we wish to create a bridge to the church so that the church too can change its way of looking at our children, no longer excluding them but fully welcoming them.”

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The pope replied, “The church does not exclude them because she loves them deeply.”

The remarks echo other, similar sentiments he’s expressed previously, and is a break from previous church traditions that give Christians everywhere that love, acceptance, and hope may truly be the way of the future.