Pope Francis recently met with groups of LGBTQ children and children with autism, and offered words of encouragement and acceptance to two marginalized communities within the Catholic Church.
The pope told both groups that God was accepting of them just as they are, statements that have drawn praise from many on social media.
“God created the world with a great variety of flowers of all different colors,” he told children with the Austrian group Sonnenschein at the Vatican on Monday, according to the Associated Press. “Each flower has its unique beauty. And each one of us is beautiful in the eyes of God, who loves us.”
Sonnenschein, which translates to Sunshine, is a clinic where children with autism can undergo therapy, Vatican News reported.
Days earlier, on Wednesday, Pope Francis met with a group of LGBTQ children and their parents and offered similar words of acceptance — a stance he has been known for since assuming his position in 2013.
“God loves your children as they are,” he told the group, which was part of an Italian LGBTQ Christian association called Tenda di Gionata, according to the Jesuit weekly America magazine.
He added: “The church loves your children as they are because they are children of God.”
Mara Grassi, the group’s vice president, said she gave Pope Francis a book that chronicled the often-difficult experiences parents of LGBTQ children face within the church, and said she hoped to created a “bridge” that would allow them to feel fully welcomed.