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“God made you like this and loves you like this” Pope Francis tells gay man.

A victim of clerical sexual abuse has come forward to say that Pope Francis told him that God made him gay and that his sexuality “does not matter.” Clerical sexual abuse refers to cases of child sexual abuse  by Catholic priests, nuns and members of religious orders, and it has long been a thorn in the flesh of the Roman Catholic Church.

Juan Carlos Cruz, the man in involved, happens to be a survivor of sexual abuse. He spent three days with Pope Francis at the Vatican in April, in which he discussed his sexuality and the abuse he suffered at the hands of Father Fernando Karadima, the Chilean priest who was found guilty of sexually abusing children back in 2011. Now describing his encounter with the Pope to CNN, Cruz said: “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.” 
Juan Carlos Cruz

Pope Francis’ comments are without a doubt the most encouraging statements on homosexuality spoken by a leader of the Catholic Church. It’s not the first time Pope Francis has shown a tolerant view towards homosexuality, despite Catholicism viewing it as being “ordered toward an intrinsic moral evil” and a “moral disorder”. Back in 2016, he told reporters: “[Gay people] should not be discriminated against. They should be respected, accompanied pastorally.”

He added: “I think that the Church not only should apologise … to a gay person whom it offended but it must also apologise to the poor as well. To the women who have been exploited, to children who have been exploited by (being forced to) work. It must apologise for having blessed so many weapons.”

However despite his positive advances, his views on the LGBTQ community as a whole have been wildly inconsistent. The Pope’s words  to Juan Carlos Cruz would amount to a significant departure from the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church, which considers homosexuality “objectively disordered” and contrary to God’s law. Vatican spokesman Greg Burke told CNN on Monday: “We do not normally comment on the Pope’s private conversations.”

One thing that can be deduced from the Pope’s scattered remarks is that he advocates for peace and safety for LGBTQ persons and this is where our African religious leaders must take notes from.

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