“The situation in which we live now provides us with new challenges which sometimes are difficult for us to understand,” the pope said, according to the transcript of the conversation.
“How can we proclaim Christ to these boys and girls? How can we proclaim Christ to a generation that is changing? We must be careful not to administer a vaccine against faith to them,” he said.
Italian media on Sunday ran headlines saying the pope’s words were an opening to legal provision for civil unions for gay couples, a subject of debate in Italy.
Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi told Vatican Radio that media interpretations were “paradoxical” and a “manipulation” of the pope’s words, particularly as some media quoted him as speaking specifically of homosexual unions, which he did not.
Lombardi said the pope was merely “alluding to the suffering of children” and not taking a stand on the political debate in Italy.