The progressive leader of the Roman Catholic Church is at it again.
In a private meeting two weeks ago, Pope Francis reportedly told a gay man who is a child sex abuse survivor that God created him and that his sexual orientation "does not matter."
Juan Carlos Cruz was victimized as a child by notorious Chilean pedophile Fernando Karadima — who was found guilty of abuse by the Vatican in 2011.
Some of the country's bishops attempted to silence and discredit Cruz’s accounts by using his sexuality against him. But Cruz said that the Pope offered him words of empathy and reception.
"He told me, 'Juan Carlos, that you are gay does not matter," Cruz recalled for El País, a Spanish newspaper. "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.'"
The church itself has not made any announcements or amendments to its traditional teaching that homosexual sex and any sex outside of marriage is a sin. But Francis has leaned in the direction of acceptance and understanding in the gay community before. His continued tolerant approach suggests that the Pope's own opinion on LGBTQ people may not be in line with the church's more conservative leaders and followers — that being gay is a choice.
The Pope was once a spiritual director in Buenos Aires, Argentina — where he was born — to gay people, when he "likely made similar comments in private," The Guardian reported. And in July 2013, four months after his election as the 266th Pope, Francis replied to a reporter's question about an alleged "gay lobby" inside the Vatican by saying, "Who am I to judge?"
But "(His recent comment) goes beyond 'who am I to judge?' to 'you are loved by God,'" The Tablet's Vatican reporter, Christopher Lamb, 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."