Gay man who was sexually abused by a priest reveals what the Pope said to him when they met
Despite its message of peace and goodwill, the Catholic Church has encountered a number of scandals during its long and restless history. In more recent years, it has certainly tried to atone for its former errors, and the current head of the Church, Pope Francis, has been a key figure in implementing a progressive agenda; but some factions of the organization have still done their best to sweep more sensitive issues under the rug.
One of these issues, of course, is child abuse.
For decades now, the Church has been the subject of criticism due to an unprecedented number of abuse cases emerging - and, quite often, the knee-jerk reaction from Catholic authorities has been to simply distance themselves from the horrific crimes that were committed within their walls.
A couple of weeks ago, however, the Pope demonstrated an important stance of humility by apologizing to a former victim of abuse.
Juan Carlos Cruz, a Chilean man, visited the pontiff in private in order to discuss the sexual abuse he suffered at the hands of Fernando Karadima - one of the Church's most notorious pedophiles. According to Cruz, Pope Francis was very apologetic about what had happened to him.
During the meeting, Cruz also let the pope know that he was gay, and explained that his sexuality had been an issue for him in this case because many other bishops in Chile had used that information to portray him as a "pervert" and a "liar" during his accusations against Karadima.
And this ties into another issue that the Catholic Church has had some conflict with throughout history: homosexuality.
The Catholic Church - and, indeed, many other denominations of Christianity - are often known to take a hard line on homosexuality, and argue that the Bible dictates that same-sex relationships are a sin. In recent years, though, Pope Francis has demonstrated a reasonably more liberal approach to the topic.
In his meeting with the abuse survivor, the Pope is reported to have said: "Juan Carlos, that you are gay does not matter. God made you like that and loves you like this and I don’t care. The Pope loves you like this. You have to be happy with who you are."
This is an outstanding step forward for the church, and may even be the most pro-gay stance that Christianity has publicly taken.
The fact that the Pope now acknowledges that people are "made" by God to be either homosexual or heterosexual (or anything in between, supposedly) is a huge step forward - not only for LGBTQ members of the church, but for those secular individuals who continued to be discriminated against and attacked by a religion simply for being themselves.
Hopefully, this statement will serve as an example to other churchgoers and members of the clergy who have up until this point blamed and punished LGBTQ people for having a sexuality that is beyond their control.
Stronger action against child abusers has also been rolled out recently. However, in the case of Fernando Karadima, the now 87-year-old has never faced any criminal charges for his actions, despite being found guilty of abuse by the Vatican back in 2011.