Telegraph:– God loves gay people and it is fine to be homosexual, Pope Francis has reportedly said.
The Pope made the remarks, which went significantly beyond his previous tolerance for homosexuality, during a meeting three weeks ago with a Chilean man who had been sexually abused by Catholic priests.
The Pope offered a heartfelt apology to Juan Carlos Cruz, who was a victim of Chile’s most notorious abusive priest, Fernando Karadima.
Mr Cruz, who is gay, said the conversation moved on from the abuse crisis to the nature of homosexuality.
“He told me ‘Juan Carlos, that you are gay does not matter. God made you like that and he loves you like that and I do not care.
“The Pope loves you as you are, you have to be happy with who you are,’” Mr Cruz told El Pais, the Spanish newspaper.
The Pope’s words appeared to go further in terms of tolerance than remarks he made in 2013, when he said of homosexuals “Who am I to judge?”
Speaking to the Vatican press corps on his return to Rome from a trip to Brazil, he said gay people should not be marginalised but rather integrated into society.
He was responding to questions about claims of an alleged “gay lobby” of clerics working in the heart of the Vatican.
“If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge?” he replied.
The Roman Catholic Church insists that while homosexual orientation is not sinful in itself, homosexual acts certainly are because they are “against natural law”.
The Pope is not changing official Church teaching, but he is at least signalling a much more open and inclusive approach, which will upset many conservative Catholics.
The Vatican neither confirmed nor denied the comments that Francis reportedly made to Mr Cruz.
“This is not a shift in theological teaching or dogma,” said Robert Mickens, a Vatican expert and the editor of La Croix International, a Catholic publication.
“It was a pastoral response to an individual. The Pope always likes to deal with the individual.”
The Pope elaborated on his ‘who am I to judge?’ comment in a recent book by an Italian expert on the Vatican.
The pontiff told him: “I was paraphrasing by heart the catechism of the Catholic Church where it says that these people should be treated with delicacy and not be marginalised.”
He added: “Let us not forget that God loves all his creatures and we are destined to receive his infinite love.”
The victims described clerical sexual abuse as “an epidemic that has destroyed thousands of lives.”
Pope Francis had initially been slow to realise the gravity of the crisis in Chile and even came to the defence of a controversial bishop linked to Father Karadima, the abusive priest.
But he performed an about-turn after Vatican investigators presented him with a 2,300-page dossier showing that sexual abuse of minors had been covered up in Chile for decades, in a pattern that has been repeated in many other countries, notably Ireland.
On Friday, Chile’s 34 bishops offered to resign en masse over the abuse scandal, an act without precedent in the history of the Catholic Church.