Pope: Church should embrace transsexuals
Pope Francis has called for transsexuals and homosexuals to be accepted and embraced by the Catholic Church, but said he was staunchly opposed to schools promoting or endorsing such "tendencies".
He said he had ministered to such people when he was a priest, then as a bishop and now as Pope.
The Vatican maintains that homosexual acts are sinful, but homosexual orientation is not.
"It is one thing to have homosexual tendencies or a sex change," the Latin American pontiff said. "But it is another thing to teach it in schools."
The Pope made the remarks during a question and answer session with Vatican correspondents aboard the papal plane as he returned to Rome from a three-day visit to Georgia and Azerbaijan.
He has made a habit of using the return flights from official trips to give candid answers to reporters' questions on a broad range of topics.
He revealed that he had personally met a woman from Spain who later had a sex change to become a man and subsequently married a woman.
He invited the couple to the Vatican, where they told him how upset they had been when a local priest had told them they would "go to hell".
"Life is life, and things should be taken as they come," the Pope said. "Sin is sin, but tendencies or hormonal imbalances ... can cause many problems and we have to be careful."