Alik Keplicz, Associated Press
FILE - In this Saturday, July 30, 2016 file photo, Pope Francis greets faithful as he arrives at the Shrine of Divine Mercy in Krakow, Poland. Pope Francis has set up a panel to study whether women could serve as deacons, a role now reserved to men. The Vatican said Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2016 Francis “after intense prayer and mature reflection” decided to set up the commission, with 12 members, six men and six women, including priests, nuns and laywomen.

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis has lamented that children, as he puts it, are being taught at school that gender can be a choice.

Francis said: "Today, in schools they are teaching this to children to children! that everyone can choose their gender."

Without specifying, he blamed this on textbooks supplied by "persons and institutions who donate money."

Francis weighed in during a closed-door meeting last week with bishops from Poland during his pilgrimage there. The Vatican released a transcript Tuesday of those private remarks.

The pope blamed what he called "ideological colonizing" backed by "very influential countries" which he didn't identify.

One such "colonization" he said -- "I'll say it clearly with its first and last name -- is gender."