A survivor of clerical sex abuse has said that Pope Francis told him God made him gay and loves him as he is.
Juan Carlos Cruz, who was one of the three abuse survivors who met the Pope in private earlier this month, said some of Chile’s bishops sought to depict him as a pervert and used his sexuality to try to discredit him.
“Juan Carlos, that you are gay does not matter,” he said Francis told him. “God made you like this and loves you like this and it doesn’t matter to me. The Pope loves you like this, you have to be happy with who you are.”
If correct, these words go beyond anything the Pope has said previously on the subject. During an in-flight press conference in 2013, when returning from Brazil, the Pope said: “If someone is gay and seeks the Lord with goodwill, who am I to judge?”
The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that people who experience same-sex attractions should be “accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity” and that “every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided” (Section 2358), however “under no circumstances” can homosexual acts be approved.
The Pope’s meetings with Cruz and the other survivors is part of the wider sexual abuse scandal in Chile.
Juan Carlos Cruz was one of many young people in Chile who suffered sexual abuse by Fr Fernando Karadima. Victims accuse bishops of ignoring or covering up the initial reports.
Bishops had told Pope Francis that Cruz was “deranged”. “They had basically told him that I was a pervert,” Cruz said.
“They had told him that I didn’t believe, that I was an enemy of the Church,” he said in his interview with El País. “I told him that it enraged me, because I continue to believe, loving the Church, thinking that this can change.”
He had told the Pope that his faith is very important to him; he found it “awful” that his detractors had said this about him. In reply, according to Cruz, Pope Francis said: “It’s a terrible evil.”
Pope Francis summoned all of Chile’s bishops to Rome, and held a meeting with them, following which all 33 bishops offered to resign. The Pope has not yet announced whether he will accept any or all of the resignations.