The remarks were apparently made to a victim of clerical sexual abuse and are the most striking acceptance of homosexuality by the Catholic Church to date
POPE Francis has told a gay man that God loves him during a private meeting, it has been claimed.
In a private dialogue, the Pontiff is understood to have told Juan Carlos Cruz, a victim of sexual abuse at the hands of Catholic priests, that God loves gay people and it is fine to be homosexual.
The comments are the most striking public acceptance about homosexuality ever made by a head of the Roman Catholic Church.
The remarks were made during a private meeting at the Vatican between the pair, in which the Pope offered a heartfelt apology.
Cruz was a victim of Chile’s most notorious paedophile priest Fernando Karadima.
Father Karadima, now aged 87, was found guilty of sexual abuse by the Vatican in 2011.
Cruz claims that his suffering was ignored by a number of Latin American bishops who used his homosexuality to brand him a liar when he spoke out.
Speaking to Spanish newspaper El País, Cruz said: “He [the Pope] told me, ‘Juan Carlos, that you are gay does not matter.
“God made you like this 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.”
The Pope’s words signal a much more open and inclusive approach by the often restrictive faith – a move which will likely upset many conservative Catholics.
The Vatican has neither confirmed nor denied the comments the Pontiff’s comments to Cruz.
The Catholic Church teaches that gay sex – and all sex outside of heterosexual marriage – is a sin.
This is not the first time Pope Francis’ comments have suggested a more open and tolerant attitude toward homosexuality.
In July 2013, when responding to a reporter’s question about the existence of an alleged “gay lobby” within the Vatican, Pope Francis said: “If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge?”
The Pontiff’s most recent remarks come as several high profile members of the clergy have sought to publicly make amends with gay Catholics, many of whom say they feel shunned an d unwelcome in the church.
Juan Carlos Cruz was one of three former sex abuse victims from Chile who were summoned to Rome to receive an apology from the Pontiff for years of abuse endured by them as children.
The victims described clerical sexual abuse as “an epidemic that has destroyed thousands of lives.”
Initially, the Pope had been slow to realise the gravity of the crisis in Chile, at one point even coming to the defence of a controversial bishop linked to Father Karadima.
However, he swiftly changed his stance after Vatican investigators presented him with a 2,300-page dossier documenting the sexual abuse of minors that had been covered up in Chile for decades.
Last week, Chile’s 34 bishops offered to resign en masse over the abuse scandal, in an unprecedented move in the history of the Catholic Church.