A gay man who was a victim of clerical sexual abuse in Chile is opening up about a private conversation he says he had with Pope Francis in which the Pope told him God made him gay and that his sexuality “does not matter.” These ‘Pope Francis gay comments’ are a significant departure from the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. Suggesting he believes people are created gay by God, it’s a position that’s likely to anger Catholic conservatives.
After spending three days with Pope Francis at the Vatican in April, Juan Carlos Cruz says the subject of his sexuality came up, as well as the sexual abuse he endured at the hands of a Chilean priest when he was younger.
“You know, Juan Carlos, that does not matter,” Cruz says the Pope told him. “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.”
But the Vatican is neither confirming nor denying that Pope Francis said this. “We do not normally comment on the Pope’s private conversations,” a Vatican spokesman tells CNN.
Whether off the record or on, these Pope Francis gay comments are a huge step in the Catholic Church’s evolution of fully accepting homosexuality. The Pope basically saying that Carlos Cruz was “born that way” isn’t what we usually hear out of Catholic doctrine.
This is not the first time the Pope has made headlines for remarks about the gay community, although it’s his most supportive comment to date. But what does the Pope’s LGBT record really look like, and is Pope Francis really as progressive as he gets credit for?
Pope Francis and His LGBT Record: The Positives
While we’ve always been down with the social justice record of Pope Francis — stuff like fighting for the poor, calling out Donald Trump and urging humans to embrace a green agenda — his LGBTQ record is a bit more complicated. First, let’s take a look at the good.
Last year the Church welcomed Luxembourg’s openly gay Prime Minister and his husband to the Vatican. But, let’s be honest, that was probably more politics than anything else, especially given there were still loads of photo-ops with anti-gay Archbishops.
In 2016, Pope Francis said the Catholic Church owed LGBT people an apology:
I repeat what the Catechism of the Catholic Church says: that they must not be discriminated against, that they must be respected and accompanied pastorally. The Church must ask forgiveness for not behaving many times — when I say the Church, I mean Christians! The Church is holy, we are sinners!
Pope Francis and His LGBT Record: The Negatives
Unfortunately, when it comes to hurting the queer community, Pope Francis has done much more than he’s done to help us. Remember that gay prime minister? Well, Pope Francis hasn’t always embraced LGBT politicians. He personally rejected France’s gay ambassador to the Vatican in 2015.
He also supported a Slovakian referendum that would keep same-sex couples in that country from being able to get married or adopt children. (Because it’s better for orphaned kids to have no parents than gay parents, apparently.)
Pope Francis doesn’t like same-sex marriage either. In 2014 he opened an anti-marriage equality conference … to which he invited Tony Perkins. Perkins is the president of the Family Research Council, which has been designated an anti-gay hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Perkins has also angered the Jewish Anti-Defamation League for comparing gay rights to the Holocaust. So, you know, definitely a guy you want to be seen with.
The Pope also doesn’t want to teach kids about gay or trans people in history, even if their claim to fame has nothing to do with being LGBT.
As for transgender people, Pope Francis really doesn’t like them either, having repeatedly condemned the trans community. Last October he attacked trans people for trying to “cancel out” differences between the sexes and promoting the “utopia of the neutral.”