Pope Francis is receiving praise for his reported comments to a gay man. The pope said that God made him that way which the LGBT community says is another sign that the Holy Father wants to make gay people feel welcome in the Catholic Church.
Juan Carlos Cruz was a victim of Chile’s most notorious abusive priest and Pope Francis invited Cruz to the Vatican this month to offer a heartfelt apology.
"I really met a man that is sincere," said Juan Carlos Cruz.
Cruz, who is gay, says his conversation with the pope quickly moved from abuse to the nature of homosexuality.
"He immediately said to me, ‘Look Juan Carlos, God loves you that way. God made you that way. The pope loves you and you have to love yourself," recounted Juan Carlos.
The Vatican declined to comment on the private conversation but if confirmed, it would be a substantial statement of tolerance toward homosexuality.
"Gay people that I don’t even know have been writing to me and said, ‘Did you really say that to you?’ and I said, yes, he said, ‘Well that is changing my life,’" said Cruz.
The Catholic Church teaches gays should be respected, loved and not discriminated against but considers homosexual activity "intrinsically disordered."
Pope Francis has tried to make the Church more welcoming to gays most famously with his comment five years ago…’who am i to judge?’
"He’s really reaching out to LGBT people and even though this doesn’t change the teaching, it changes the approach of the Church," relayed Father James Martin, Author of "Building a Bridge."
Cruz says bishops used his sexual orientation as a weapon to try to discredit his claims. He says he hopes the Pope’s comments will lead to the end a culture of abuse and cover-up.
After attending a crisis meeting with Pope Francis about the priest abuse cover-up last week, ALL of Chile’s bishops offered to resign.