The Vatican has backtracked on the pope's recent recommendation that parents of gay children seek out psychiatric help.
Pope Francis made the controversial remarks in Ireland at the close of the World Meeting of Families, a Vatican-sponsored conference on matters affecting families.
Asked by reporters what parents should do when a child comes out to them, Francis urged prayer and understanding, but in some cases, psychiatric treatment. It was unclear at the time if the pope was referring to "ex-gay" therapy.
"When [homosexuality] shows itself from childhood, there is a lot that can be done through psychiatry, to see how things are,” he said. "It is something else if it shows itself after 20 years."
The pope added that to ignore signs that a child might be gay is "error of fatherhood or motherhood."
The Vatican scrubbed the reference to psychiatry when it later published a transcript of the pope's response. The Holy See did so as to not "change the thoughts of the Holy Father," a spokeswoman told Agence France-Presse, as reported by The Guardian.
"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,'" she said.
The Catholic Church has been embroiled in scandal since a recent report revealed widespread child abuse at the hands of priests in Pennsylvania. In a public letter, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò accused Francis of being complicit in the epidemic of abuse, which has spanned other states, for ignoring allegations against Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, who served in New York and New Jersey before becoming archbishop of Washington, D.C. Now retired, McCarrick recently resigned from the College of Cardinals and continues to deny the allegations.