POPE Francis has slammed the teaching of gender theory in schools, describing it as “ideological colonisation” and “insidious indoctrination”.

The pontiff made the offensive comments to journalists aboard the papal plane while returning from a trip to Georgia.

He had been asked to elaborate on earlier comments he had made to priests and nuns in Georgia, in which he described the teaching of gender theory as part of the “global war” against marriage.

“It is one thing for a person to have this tendency, this option, and even change sex. But it is another thing to teach it, gender theory, in schools along these lines in order to change mentality,” he said.

Despite his stance on gender theory, Francis said homosexual and trans people should be treated with respect.

“When a person (who is gay) arrives before Jesus, Jesus certainly will not say, ‘Go away because you are homosexual,'” Francis said.

“Life is life, and things should be taken as they come. Sin is sin, but tendencies or hormonal imbalances … can cause many problems and we have to be careful.

“But each case must be welcomed, accompanied, studied, discerned and integrated. This is what Jesus would do today.”

Pope Francis has been praised in the past for his progressive views on LGBTI people.

In June, he said Christians and the Catholic Church owe the LGBTI community an apology.

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