Pope Francis’ inclusive stance toward lesbian, gay, and bisexual Catholics may be growing. While meeting with a gay Chilean sexual abuse victim, Pope Francis told him that God “made you this way,” the man claims.
Juan Carlos Cruz, who was sexually abused by a prominent Catholic priest in Chile, met with the pope after Cruz and two other sexual abuse survivors demanded action by the pontiff against widespread and unpunished sexual abuse within the church. It was during this meeting that Cruz says Pope Francis made affirming and supportive remarks about his sexuality.
“He said to me, ‘Juan Carlos that’s not a problem,'” Cruz said, according to the New York Times. “You have to be happy with who you are, God made you this way and loves you this way, and the pope loves you this way.”
The Vatican refused to comment to the Times on Pope Francis’ statements. However, the pope’s comments fall in line with previous remarks made regarding gay Catholics. When asked about gay clergy ordained within the church, Pope Francis once told reporters “who am I to judge?“And in his book The Name of God is Mercy, the Pope stressed that people “should not be defined only by their sexual tendencies” and that “before all else comes the individual person, in his wholeness and dignity.”
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However, Pope Francis doesn’t have a universal message of tolerance for all people within the LGBTQ community. He has previously gone on the record criticizing teaching practices that let children “choose their gender,” and he also condemned technology that helps transgender people undergo gender transitioning. Perhaps most infamously of all, the pope negatively compared transgender rights to building “nuclear arms.”
So while Pope Francis’ discussion with Cruz may be a promising step forward for the LGBTQ community, there’s still a long road ahead for the pope to accept queer people beyond the first few letters.