Look, you can say whatever you want about our reigning Pope, but you can’t deny that the dude is a little more chill than his predecessors (especially the last one). This has been made even more evident by the fact that the last authority on anything Catholic has taken up as a supporter of a controversial children’s book about different types of families.

The Guardian reports that Little Egg, which is a book about animals in every kind of family configuration—lesbian rabbits, mixed race dogs, a single parent hippo—was banned by the mayor of Venice (who’s also happily banning any pride events within city limits, although he’s literally said “I’m not homophobic, I have gay friends”) from being available in schools. But while Mayor Luigi Brugnaro is busy demanding that children be shielded from the reality that celibate elephants exist (that’s gotta be in the book, right?), the pope is busy writing letters to Francesca Pardi, the author of Little Egg, to show that some Catholics are cool with the fact that different families exist—regardless of whether these are family units they support.

From The Guardian:

Now Pardi has found an unlikely supporter in Pope Francis, who through his staff has written to the author praising her work. “His holiness is grateful for the thoughtful gesture and for the feelings which it evoked, hoping for an always more fruitful activity in the service of young generations and the spread of genuine human and Christian values,” wrote Peter B Wells, a senior official at the Vatican secretariat of state.

The letter, dated 9 July and recently seen by the Guardian, was a response to a parcel of children’s books sent by Pardi to the pontiff in June. The collection from her publisher, Lo Stampatello, including seven or eight books which deal with lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues (LGBT), was accompanied by a heartfelt letter from the author describing the attacks she has come under in recent months.

While it’s unlikely that this book will change the Vatican’s views on gay marriage, it’s nice to know that the Pope (who is not perfect, and not even great) can think critically about the nature of human relationships. This is not happy news for some catholics who, The Guardian reports, have taken up a petition demanding that the pope revert back to more conventional church teachings, but the dude’s on a roll and he’s not going to let some haters get him down. Neither are the authors of Italy, 250 of whom have demanded that their own books be banned by Venice if its mayor was going to make himself the city’s moral authority.

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Italy’s policies on gay marriage and parenting may not be evolving quickly—Pardi, who has four children, had to marry her female partner in Spain and have their children in The Netherlands as Italy does not provide rights to gay parents—but the pope’s support of Little Egg is a small step towards equality in the country. The Guardian reports that while Italy’s still a long way from normalizing gay families, the country’s prime minister has vowed to work on legalizing same-sex unions by the end of this year due to a recent court ruling that found that Italy’s lack of protections for same-sex couples is a violation of human rights.


Contact the author at mark.shrayber@jezebel.com.

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