Pope Francis has given an Italian children's book author a huge boost by praising her for her work after the Mayor of Venice banned her latest release from city schools.
In Piccolo Uovo, Francesca Pardi explores different types of families - including same-sex couples - and the book appears to be popular at the Vatican, but Venice Mayor Luigi Brugnaro has decided that tales of gay penguins and lesbian rabbits raising families are not appropriate for schoolchildren.
His ban in June prompted other top authors to demand their books also be pulled from school shelves in protest.
And now Pope Francis has given Pardi's tale his blessing after she sent him a package of children's books addressing lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues and asked him to intervene in the drama.
She added a note which read: "Many parishes across the country are in this period sullying our name and telling falsehoods about our work which deeply offends us."
A representative for the Pope has since responded, "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."
Pope Francis is popular among gay Christians because he refuses to take a tough stance on homosexuality. He has previously said, the Church has no right to "interfere spiritually" in the lives of gays and lesbians, adding, "If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?"
The Mayor of Venice's school book ban first hit international headlines last month (Jul15) when Sir Elton John called Brugnaro "extremely silly" for "stupidly choosing to politicise children's books by banning titles that touch on same sex families living happily ever after".
The gay rocker, who has a home in Venice, said, "Instead of encouraging a world based on inclusiveness, tolerance and love, he's championing a future society that's divisive and fosters ignorance... Beautiful Venice is indeed sinking, but not as fast as the boorishly bigoted Brugnaro."