Making waves for his most recent comments on sexuality, the leader of the world’s Catholics reportedly told a gay man that his sexual orientation isn’t important.
“Juan Carlos, that you are gay doesn’t matter,” Francis told clerical sexual abuse survivor Juan Carlos Cruz last month, according to Cruz himself, in comments to the Spanish daily El Pais. “God made you like this and loves you like this and it doesn’t matter to me. The pope loves you like this — you have to be happy with who you are.”
Pope Francis recently met with 34 Chilean bishops, many of whom have been accused of covering up cases of clerical sexual abuse and destroying damning evidence.
All have offered their resignation in the wake of the sex scandal rocking the Vatican.
Sexual abuse survivors also met with Francis back in April, and are continuing to share some of their encounters with the pontiff.
Cruz was asked by a reporter if he’d spoken with the pope about his sexuality, and he indicated he had.
“They [the clerics] had basically told him that I was a pervert,” said Cruz, as reported by Crux.com and others. “I explained that I am not the reincarnation of St. Aloysius Gonzaga [a member of the Society of Jesus, the pope’s religious community], but I’m not a bad person. I try not to hurt anyone.”
Sharing an English report of the interview on Twitter, Cruz spoke about this exchange, calling it “something else that I will always remember about my hours of conversations with Pope Francis. His phrase: ‘Who am I to judge?’ — I experienced it personally,” he continued, “and I hope many feel that no one is excluded or should be excluded … ever!”
Cruz said he told the pope he could “have a spectacular papacy if you grab the bull by the horns and deliver a strong blow on the issue of abuse, and send out the message that the pope will no longer tolerate this,” as multiple outlets reported.
The abuse survivor also said the pope appeared to be looking for guidance on the issue. “He told me, ‘Help me so that the Holy Spirit guides me so that I know well what I have to do,'” Cruz claimed.
Francis has often distinguished between the sinner and the sin when it comes to homosexual acts, but these comments are the furthest he appears to have gone on the topic of gender orientation.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that people who have same-sex attractions should be “accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity” and that “every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided” (Section 2358). However, “under no circumstances” can homosexual acts be approved, according to the Catholic Herald.
God loves all of us, he allows us our choices but he doesn't support gays. If He did, He wouldn't have destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah. So i think the pope misled people by saying God made them gay.
— samson odhiambo (@samsonodhiambo2) May 22, 2018
In 2015, the pope met privately with a Spanish transgender man, Diego Neria, and reportedly told him, “God loves all his children, however they are; you are a son of God, who accepts you exactly as you are. Of course you are a son of the church!”
The pope told reporters flying with him after his visit to Georgia and Azerbaijan in 2016, “When a person [who is gay] arrives before Jesus, Jesus certainly will not say, ‘Go away because you are homosexual.'”
The pontiff did warn during the same discussion with reporters, “Please don’t say that the pope will sanctify trans [transgender people], because I read the headlines in the newspapers.”
The pope has stated his opposition to gender theory, and any idea that a person can identify as male, female, both or neither. He asserted that teaching this theory in schools amounted to a “global war” against the family.
“What I was talking about was the nastiness that is present today in indoctrinating people in gender theory,” he said. “It is one thing for a person to have this tendency, this option, and even change sex.
“But it is another thing to teach it — gender theory — in schools along these lines in order to change mentality. I call this ideological colonization,” he continued.
The Vatican has not commented on Cruz’s claims, and has not offered further clarification concerning Francis’ beliefs about homosexuality. “We don’t normally comment on the pope’s private conversations,” a spokesman for the Vatican told reporters on Sunday, according to the Los Angeles Times.