Pope Francis: Like Mary, the Church is a mother

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The pontiff told him: "I was paraphrasing by heart the catechism of the Catholic Church where it says that these people should be treated with delicacy and not be marginalised".

During the meeting Cruz told Francis about being abused by Father Fernando Karadima and the fact that his sexuality had been used to discredit him.

POPE FRANCIS has been praised by campaigners after claims that he told a gay man "God made you like this" and said sexuality "doesn't matter".

"It goes beyond 'who am I to judge?' to 'you are loved by God, '" Christopher Lamb, the Vatican correspondent for the Catholic newspaper Tablet, told The Guardian. "You have to be happy with who you are".

While the Catholic church still believes homosexuality is a sin, the Pope's remarks may further bolster that his holiness is more tolerant than those who have preceded him.

Pope Francis spoke during his Mass said in the chapel of the Vatican's Saint Martha guesthouse, marking the first liturgical celebration of the feast of Mary, Mother of the Church, which he established in March.

"If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?" the pope said at the time.

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Describing his encounter with the Pope to CNN, Cruz said: "You know Juan Carlos, that does not matter".

Recalling his own experience, the pope said it was thanks to his faith that "I found the sure foundation of my dreams and the strength to realize them".

The Pope's words amount to a significant departure from the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church, which considers homosexuality "objectively disordered" and contrary to God's law. Rather than address the problems around sexual abuse within their churches, they hid it. Homophobia trumped logic and ruined the lives of thousands because of views of masculinity, and gay priests doing in the dark what they were being denied in the light.

Three victims of clerical sexual abuse in Chile, Juan Carlos Cruz, James Hamilton and Jose Andres Murillo pose before a news conference at the Foreign Press in Rome, Italy, May 2, 2018.

And in 2016, he officially suggested a softening of the Catholic Church's reception of LGBTQ+ people in a letter titled, "The Joy of Love", writing, "We would like before all else to reaffirm that every person, regardless of sexual orientation, ought to be respected in his or her dignity and treated with consideration".

After attending a crisis meeting with Francis about the cover-up last week, all of Chile's bishops offered to resign.

A great failing of the church, he said, is that many Catholics have been reluctant to say so, which then "makes people feel guilty about something they have no control over".

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