Pope Francis has a medical opinion about gay people

Hamlet famously tells Ophelia: “Get thee to a nunnery.” Hamlet believes that is where she will be the least offensive and do the least harm.

Now that I have unforgivably mangled Shakespeare we can wander to PinkNews where Nick Duffy provides a link to a story at the Italian newspaper La Stampa. Pope Francis was interviewed on his plane enroute to Rome. Here is the relevant quote (with a bit of help from Google Translate):

What would you say to a father whose son tells him he is a homosexual?

First of all I will say to pray, then not to condemn, to dialogue, to understand, to make room for the son or daughter. Then it depends on the age in which this disquiet is manifested: one thing is if it manifests itself as children, there are things that can also occur with psychiatry. Another is if it manifests itself at twenty. But never will I say that silence is a remedy. Ignoring the homosexual son or daughter is a lack of paternity or motherhood. I’m your father, I’m your mother, we talk, I’m not sending you away from the family.

I suppose that we should be thankful for the sentiment that gay children should not be rejected. Nevertheless, the Pope is holding out hope that a child’s sexuality can be altered through psychiatry. That perpetuates the myth that a disapproved sexual orientation is a mental illness. The Pope is providing a recipe for making a kid neurotic.

Any psychiatrist who would see an adolescent for the purpose of changing their sexual orientation is a quack per se. Many states and locales have banned the practice of conversion therapy because it is ineffective and possibly harmful which is the position of the American Psychological Association. So at the outset a child is being subjected to the manipulation of an unprofessional practitioner. Rational people call that child abuse.

Given the lack of evidence, there are only two possibilities:

  1. The child lies to their parents and claims to be straight or;
  2. The child admits that their sexual orientation remains gay.

Keep in mind that the Pope has effectively vouched for the efficacy of conversion therapy. When a child lies he or she shreds some of the fabric that holds a family together. The lie will eventually be uncovered at which time the child is not only sinfully gay but a liar as well.

If the kid is honest then he or she is in defiance of the Holy Father who is presumptively inerrant. At that point parents might invoke both blame and shame. The child is to be blamed for the lack of “progress.” They are not sufficiently motivated, did not try hard enough or did not follow the treatment plan. The child is already being shamed for being gay. Parent might assume that more shame will provide sufficient stimulus for success. This, in turn, gets up back to option #1, the lie.

Until religious leaders stop attesting to the successfulness of conversion therapy more young people will be damaged. Unfortunately people do not ordinarily challenge the Pope. The reporter did not ask a follow-up question regarding the basis for his assertion that “there are things that can also occur with psychiatry.”

As for the title of this piece it is for parents who would abuse their children this way. I get faith. I really do in spite of my personal rejection but when it comes to medical treatment, faith is superstition. Get thee to a shrinkery because that is where mom and dad can learn to be less offensive and to do less harm. They need the psychiatrist — not their gay children.

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By David Cary Hart

Retired CEO. Formerly a W.E. Deming-trained quality-management consultant. Now just a cranky Jewish queer. Gay cis. He/Him/His.