For years, the Catholic Church had strong anti-gay messaging. This included teaching that gay sex is a sin, as is sex outside of marriage. However, Pope Frances reportedly told Juan Carlos Cruz in a private meeting at the Vatican that God accepts him for who he is, including his homosexuality. Cruz told the Spanish newspaper El País details of the conversation, according to The Sun.
“He [the Pope] 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.”
The conversation took place because the Pope wanted to speak with Cruz about his past ordeals as a victim of sexual abuse by Father Karadima in Chile. Kardima was found guilty in 2011. Pope Francis extended his apologies, which was of big importance to Cruz, who had been discredited for years. In particular, Spanish bishops used Cruz’s sexual orientation against him after Cruz spoke out about the abuse.
For now, the Vatican has not confirmed or denied the comments.
The backstory between the Pope and Cruz’s meeting spans years. Back in 2011, Kardima was found guilty of sexual abuse and was removed from his post. However, the victims, which include Cruz, said that Bishop Juan Barros was in on the abuse but did nothing.
Instead of being supported in the new claims about the Bishop, Cruz and the other victims felt despair when the Pope said that the victims’ accusations were “slander,” reported NPR.
Luckily, Pope Francis came around and realized that he made a mistake. Thus, the Pope invited Cruz along with a couple of other victims for private conversations, during which Cruz shared hours of conversation with the Pope over several days.
And Cruz took full advantage of the opportunity, letting the Pope know that there were others that knew of the abuses and did nothing, including Cardinal Errázuriz. The Pope has actually appointed Errázuriz to a council of senior advisors to the Pope, to which Cruz only had these words to say: “It’s unbelievable that [Cardinal Errázuriz] is actually close to you when he has a whole history of covering up and being a terrible person.”
For the gay community, the reported comments by the Pope are a great sign of hope for an evolved Catholic religion that is accepting of everyone, regardless of sexual orientation. However, some believe that the meetings that the Pope held with Cruz and other victims only happened “because his first strategy — attacking the survivors’ credibility — had failed,” according to Anne Barrett Doyle. Doyle runs a website that tracks clerical abuse.