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Pope Francis delivers his speech during the Angelus prayer, at St. Peter's square in the Vatican, on June 27, 2021. Photo: Tiziana Fabi/AFP via Getty Images

A Jesuit priest who ministers to LGBTQ Catholics tweeted a letter from Pope Francis praising his work on Sunday.

Why it matters: The letter was delivered the same week the Vatican protested a proposed Italian law that would criminalize hate speech against the LGBTQ community, continuing a pattern of mixed signals from the Church.

Context: Francis has expressed support for the LGBTQ community over the years. Last October, he made news when his endorsement of same-sex civil unions was made public through a documentary.

What they're saying: Francis' letter, which is written in Spanish and dated June 21, is a response to Father James Martin, who had sent a communique referencing the Outreach LGBTQ Ministry Conference.

  • "I want to thank you for your pastoral zeal and your ability to be close to people, with the closeness that Jesus had, and which reflects the closeness of God," the Pope wrote, according to a translation of the letter posted on Martin's Twitter.
  • "Our Heavenly Father comes close with love to each one of his children, each and everyone. His heart is open to each and everyone," the letter continues. "You are a priest for all men and women, just as God is a Father for all men and women."
  • He added that he will pray for Martin's "flock" to grow.

"A growing dissonance has developed between his inclusive language and the church’s actions," the New York Times writes.

  • "The result is confusion and frustration among some of the pope’s liberal supporters who wonder whether the 84-year-old Argentine remains committed to a more tolerant church and is simply struggling to grasp the rapidly shifting contours of a difficult issue, or is really a social conservative trying to please everyone."
  • "What is clear is that the new note will serve as fresh fodder in a battle within the church," the Times writes.

Be smart: The Pope "does want to foster an environment of inclusion for them in the church, but often the Vatican teaching and official policy doesn't line up with the pope's personal message," National Catholic Reporter correspondent Christopher White told Axios' Niala Boodhoo in March.

The big picture: The majority of American Catholics have backed same-sex marriage since 2011, per Gallup.

Go deeper: The Vatican’s decree on same-sex unions

Go deeper

Oct 3, 2021 - World

Swiss Guards leave corps in order to avoid Vatican vaccine mandate

Swiss Guards at the Vatican. Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP via Getty Images

Three members of the Vatican's Swiss Guard have voluntarily left the corps after refusing to be vaccinated against COVID-19, defying the Vatican's mandate, AP reports.

Driving the news: Last week, the Vatican ordered all employees to get vaccinated or submit to testing, with the new policy going into effect on Oct. 1.

Oct 3, 2021 - World

Up to 3,200 pedophiles worked in French Catholic Church since 1950, commission says

Believers attend a mass in the Cathedral of Lucon, western France, on March 14 organized after the unveiling ceremony of a plaque in tribute to childhood victims of sexual abuse by priests. Photo: Loic Venance/AFP via Getty Images

The head of an independent commission investigating child sexual abuse in the French Catholic Church said Sunday there have been between 2,900 and 3,200 pedophile priests or other members of the church since 1950, Le Monde reports.

What to watch: The revelation comes days before the commission releases its full 2,500-page report on Tuesday.

Updated 15 mins ago - Economy & Business

Tax season nightmare ahead for understaffed IRS

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

The IRS will start accepting 2021 tax returns in less than a week, and the filing delays and administrative headaches to come might eclipse last year — which was “one of the worst filing seasons," according to an independent advocacy agency within the IRS.

Why it matters: For taxpayers, especially with complex or paper filings, this means headaches, delayed refunds, and mistakes.