A gay victim of clerical sexual abuse has claimed he received a moving message of support for his identity from Pope Francis.
Chilean man Juan Carlos Cruz met with the leader of the Catholic Church to discuss the abuse he suffered at the hands of Father Fernando Karadima, a Chilean Catholic priest found guilty by the Vatican in 2011 of sexually abusing children, The Guardian reported.
In an interview with the Spanish newspaper El País, Cruz recalled how the subject of his sexual orientation came up during the meeting.
Cruz said his homosexuality had been used against him by some Chilean bishops in local media in an attempt to discredit his allegations and smear him as a pervert and a liar.
“[Francis] told me, ‘Juan Carlos, that you are gay does not matter. God made you like this and loves you like this and I don’t care. The pope loves you like this. You have to be happy with who you are,’” Cruz told the publication.
The Vatican’s chief spokesperson did not confirm whether Cruz’s statement accurately reflected his conversation with Pope Francis.
This is not the first time Pope Francis has made headlines for remarks about LGBTIQ people.
In 2013, when asked about the existence of an alleged “gay lobby” within the Vatican, Francis answered, “If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge?”
But in 2016 Francis said the acceptance of transgender people and teaching about gender diversity in schools was “terrible”.
“Today in schools they are teaching this to children – to children! – that everyone can choose their gender,” he said.
“Speaking with Pope Benedict, who is well and has a clear mind, he was telling me, ‘Holiness, this is the epoch of sin against God the Creator, he’s intelligent!
“God created the world this way… and we are doing the opposite’.”
(Photo by Casa Rosada)