Pope: It’s ‘terrible’ children taught they can choose gender

FILE - In this Saturday, Oct. 26, 2013 file photo, Pope Francis leaves after an audience with families in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican. The Vatican is taking the unusual step of conducting a worldwide survey on how parishes deal with sensitive issues such as birth control, divorce and gay marriage, seeking input ahead of a major meeting on the family that Pope Francis plans next year. The survey reflects the pope's pledges to move away from what he called a "Vatican-centric" approach toward one where local church leaders are more involved in decision-making. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino, File)

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis has lamented that children, as he puts it, are being taught at school that gender can be a choice.

Francis said: “Today, in schools they are teaching this to children — to children! — that everyone can choose their gender.”

Without specifying, he blamed this on textbooks supplied by “persons and institutions who donate money.”

Francis weighed in during a closed-door meeting last week with bishops from Poland during his pilgrimage there. The Vatican released a transcript Tuesday of those private remarks.

The pope blamed what he called “ideological colonizing” backed by “very influential countries” which he didn’t identify.

One such “colonization” he said — “I’ll say it clearly with its first and last name — is gender.”

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