The internet has been set ablaze following reports of highly controversial comments made by Pope Francis during a private conversation with an openly gay man. Juan Carlos Cruz, who suffered abuse at the hands of a Chilean priest, spent three days with Francis talking openly about his struggles with his sexuality and horrific experiences of abuse.
Here’s what Pope Francis allegedly said, according to Juan Carlos, who discussed his meeting with the pontiff in an interview with CNN:
“You know Juan Carlos, that does not matter. God made you like this. God loves you like this. The Pope loves you like this and you should love yourself and not worry about what people say.”
If reported accurately, the pope’s comments mark a distinct break from over 2,000 years of Catholic teaching, which considers homosexuality “objectively disordered” and in contradiction to God’s law.
As section 2357 of the Catholic Catechism notes:
“Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that ‘homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.’ They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.”
When asked to confirm the Pope’s remarks with Cruz, the Vatican issued a simple statement: “We do not normally comment on the Pope’s private conversations.”
In 2013, Francis famously remarked, “If someone is gay and seeks the Lord with goodwill, who am I to judge?” when pressed for his views on homosexuality.
“Tell me: When God looks at a gay person, does he endorse the existence of this person with love, or reject and condemn this person?'” he said (translated).
Some are unconvinced that the Pope has said anything out of line.
“I welcome any statement from Pope Francis which reminds people that gay people (like anyone) should love themselves,” wrote Douglas Robertson at the Independent. “But what he has reportedly intimated to this victim is not radical, it is not new, and it belies a wider official teaching on homosexuality that is very clear.”
The Catechism, which represents the Church’s official teaching on a range of social and moral issues, says this about those struggling with homosexuality:
“2358 The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.
2359 Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.”
Fernando Karadima, the disgraced priest who abused Cruz, was found guilty of abuse by the Vatican back in 2011.
In a shocking move last Friday, all the bishops in Chile offered their resignation to Pope Francis following an emergency summit held at the Vatican to discuss Chile’s horrific sex-abuse scandal, Catholic News Agency reported.
Some 31 active Bishops, along with three who were retired, tendered their resignation to the Pope, insisting that it was time to place their fate “in the hands of the Holy Father so that he might freely decide for each one of us.”