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Gay Man Says Pope Francis Made Some Very Progressive Remarks About Homosexuality During Private Conversation

Gay Man Says Pope Francis Made Some Very Progressive Remarks About Homosexuality During Private Conversation
Giuseppe Ciccia/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

Pope Francis reportedly told a gay man that "God made you like that and he loves you like that,"
and that his sexuality "does not matter." The comments are the most progressive remarks given by a pontiff on the subject of homosexuality and its relation to the Catholic faith.

In a tweet last month, Juan Carlos Cruz, a survivor of clerical sexual abuse, recounted his talk with Francis, in which he said the pope "listened to me with great respect."

"I spoke for more than two and a half hours alone with Pope Francis. He listened to me with great respect, affection and closeness, like a father. We talked about many subjects. Today I have more hope in the future of our church... Even though the task is enormous."

According to Cruz, Francis offered him words of comfort during a discussion they were having last month about the Vatican's cover-ups of sexual abuse in Cruz's native Chile. In an interview with Spanish newspaper El Pais, Cruz detailed his conversation with the pope.

"He told me, 'Juan Carlos, the fact that you're gay doesn't matter. God made you like that, and he loves you like that, and I don't care.'"

Clerical abuse by the infamous pedophile priest Fernando Karadima wasn't the only trauma Cruz had to endure. Cruz told Francis that after he had reported the abuse, he was targeted for being gay. "The pope loves you [as you are], you have to be happy with who you are," the pope reportedly said to Cruz.

"They had told [Francis] that I was practically a pervert. I explained that I'm not the reincarnation of San Luis Gonzaga, but I am not a bad person, I try to not harm anyone."

Though the Vatican has declined to comment on "the pope's private conversations," Francis's comments are the latest in an apparent evolution on gay rights that the pontiff has been embracing. In 2013, Francis famously said: "If someone is gay and is searching for the Lord and has good will, then who am I to judge him?" The pope added in a subsequent interview that God does not "reject and condemn" people for being gay.

The "new level of acceptance of homosexuality," the LA Times wrote, is not however compatible with conservative Catholic dogma. The Catholic Church's catechism teaches that homosexuality is a sin that is "contrary to natural law." Catholic teachings are also steadfast in their assertion that homosexuality's "psychological genesis remains largely unexplained," despite overwhelming consensus among mental health professionals that homosexuality is in no way a mental disorder. "Under no circumstances can they be approved," the catechism reads.

American priest Reverend James Martin, an outspoken advocate for modernizing church teachings on homosexuality, told the New York Times that Francis's comments are "a big deal, I cannot remember the pope making a comment about gay people being born that way,"

"Pope Francis has repeated what all reputable biologists and psychologists say — you don't choose your sexual orientation. And that is a great comfort to many gay and lesbian Catholics who have been told by priests that they have chosen their orientation and are therefore guilty."

But as western society continues to become more accepting of LGBTQ individuals, some experts think the pope's attitude toward being gay do indeed signal a shift in church paradigm.

"It goes beyond 'who am I to judge?' to 'you are loved by God,'" Christopher Lamb, Vatican correspondent for the Catholic newspaper Tablet, told The Guardian. "I don't think he has changed church teaching but he's demonstrating an affirmation of gay Catholics, something that has been missing over the years in Rome."