During a recent interview with Spanish newspaper El Pais, Juan Carlos Cruz — a Chilean sex abuse survivor — shared a groundbreaking anecdote from a meeting with Pope Francis. After the pope apologized for the abuse Cruz suffered at the hands of church leaders, Cruz said he opened up to Francis about the trauma that came afterward — being told he was a “perversion” for being gay.
Unexpectedly, the pope responded by affirming his sexuality.
Marianne Duddy-Burke, executive director of Dignity USA (a nonprofit focused on LGBTQ rights), agrees that the statement does have the power to transform thoughts — but she says the Holy See would need to make an official statement. “Any change in teaching or public stance that the [Vatican] takes will definitely have an impact on what kids in Catholic schools are taught,” Duddy-Burke says.
As a gay woman who grew up in an Irish Catholic family, Duddy-Burke understands firsthand how damaging the anti-LGTBQ teachings can be to a child’s development. “Calling it an ‘objective disorder’ is saying that homosexual people are not part of God’s plan for humanity — that we’re essentially defective human beings,” she tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “It’s such a degrading position.”