At the start of Pride Month in June 2021, a picture started to circulate on social media that supposedly showed the rainbow-colored Pride flag hanging from the U.S. Embassy at the Vatican.
This is a genuine photograph.
It was first posted to the social media accounts of the Embassy of the United States to the Holy See on June 1, 2021.
The U.S. Embassy to the Holy See celebrates #PrideMonth with the Pride flag on display during the month of June. The United States respects the dignity and equality of LGBTQI+ people. LGBTQI+ rights are human rights. pic.twitter.com/Xentlnr16E
— U.S. in Holy See (@USinHolySee) June 1, 2021
The U.S. Embassy to the Holy See posted two other photographs featuring the flag’s rainbow colors on that day. The first showed the White House bathed in rainbow lights, and the second accompanied a statement from U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken:
“As we celebrate Pride Month this June, let us not only observe how far we have come in the struggle for the human rights of LGBTQI+ persons, but also acknowledge the challenges that remain.”
The picture of the flag on the U.S. Embassy to the Holy See drew some criticism from conservative critics. Evangelist Franklin Graham, for example, called the display an “insult to the Catholic Church!”
The Vatican has not commented on this display of the flag. While the Catholic Church has traditionally been opposed to gay marriage, Pope Francis has made a few statements over the years that seemed to contradict the church’s position on homosexuality.
In 2013, for example, Francis said: “If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge him?” More recently in 2020, Francis told a group of parents of LGBTQ children that “God loves your children as they are” and “the church loves your children as they are because they are children of God.”