A gay man had a private conversation with the pope. What he said was game-changing.

An unexpected response from the pope may signal an important shift in the Catholic Church's views on queer identity.

Photo by Marvin Recinos/AFP/Getty Images.

According to CNN, Juan Carlos Cruz, a survivor of sexual abuse at the hands of a Chilean priest, spent three days in April 2018 with Pope Francis at the Vatican. During the visit, Cruz discussed his sexuality with the pope, which sparked a surprising response.


"You know Juan Carlos, that does not matter," Cruz says the pope told him. "God made you like this. God loves you like this. The pope loves you like this, and you should love yourself and not worry about what people say."

Photo by Ettore Ferrari/AFP/Getty Images.

Though the Vatican has declined to comment on the conversation — with Vatican spokesperson Greg Burke telling CNN that "We do not normally comment on the pope's private conversations" — social media users around the world were quick to comment on the unusually progressive view of queer identity from the church.

Given the church's history with queer individuals, the pope's alleged comments are an important — albeit incipient — move toward progress.    

From pushing gay leaders out of the church to condemning queer congregants, the church's problematic history has understandably caused many individuals to leave the church or disregard it entirely.  

Photo by Vincenzo Pinto/AFP/Getty Images

The pope himself is far from perfect, too. He's declined to apologize about the Catholic Church's past problematic behavior toward indigenous communities, and he still doesn't affirm transgender individuals. Yet one would be remiss to not acknowledge that he is easily the most progressive pope in the Church's history and has frustrated many traditionalists in the church with his nonjudgmental comments on gay marriage, his movement toward holding the Church accountable for its role in systematic sexual abuse, his unique beliefs on the existence of hell, and his history of acknowledging climate change.

Photo by Max Rossi/AFP/Getty Images.

He's complicated and imperfect, but for many queer Christians and Catholics, the pope's words are meaningful.

Queer people don't owe anything to the Catholic Church nor do they need the church's support to live their best and brightest lives. But, it's impossible to negate the profound impact of religion — both positive and negative — on many individuals' lives, including people who identify under the LGBTQ umbrella. Many queer people do find religion deeply important, and they deserve to have a leader who affirms their livelihood.

Photo by Daniel Schludi on Unsplash
True

The global eradication of smallpox in 1980 is one of international public health's greatest successes. But in 1966, seven years after the World Health Organization announced a plan to rid the world of the disease, smallpox was still widespread. The culprits? A lack of funds, personnel and vaccine supply.

Meanwhile, outbreaks across South America, Africa, and Asia continued, as the highly contagious virus continued to kill three out of every 10 people who caught it, while leaving many survivors disfigured. It took a renewed commitment of resources from wealthy nations to fulfill the promise made in 1959.

Forty-one years later, although we face a different virus, the potential for vast destruction is just as great, and the challenges of funding, personnel and supply are still with us, along with last-mile distribution. Today, while 30% of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated, with numbers rising every day, there is an overwhelming gap between wealthy countries and the rest of the world. It's becoming evident that the impact on the countries getting left behind will eventually boomerang back to affect us all.

Photo by ismail mohamed - SoviLe on Unsplash

The international nonprofit CARE recently released a policy paper that lays out the case for U.S. investment in a worldwide vaccination campaign. Founded 75 years ago, CARE works in over 100 countries and reaches more than 90 million people around the world through multiple humanitarian aid programs. Of note is the organization's worldwide reputation for its unshakeable commitment to the dignity of people; they're known for working hand-in-hand with communities and hold themselves to a high standard of accountability.

"As we enter into our second year of living with COVID-19, it has become painfully clear that the safety of any person depends on the global community's ability to protect every person," says Michelle Nunn, CARE USA's president and CEO. "While wealthy nations have begun inoculating their populations, new devastatingly lethal variants of the virus continue to emerge in countries like India, South Africa and Brazil. If vaccinations don't effectively reach lower-income countries now, the long-term impact of COVID-19 will be catastrophic."

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Canva

As millions of Americans have raced to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, millions of others have held back. Vaccine hesitancy is nothing new, of course, especially with new vaccines, but the information people use to weigh their decisions matters greatly. When choices based on flat-out wrong information can literally kill people, it's vital that we fight disinformation every which way we can.

Researchers at the Center for Countering Digital Hate, a not-for-profit non-governmental organization dedicated to disrupting online hate and misinformation, and the group Anti-Vax Watch performed an analysis of social media posts that included false claims about the COVID-19 vaccines between February 1 and March 16, 2021. Of the disinformation content posted or shared more than 800,000 times, nearly two-thirds could be traced back to just 12 individuals. On Facebook alone, 73% of the false vaccine claims originated from those 12 people.

Dubbed the "Disinformation Dozen," these 12 anti-vaxxers have an outsized influence on social media. According to the CCDH, anti-vaccine accounts have a reach of more than 59 million people. And most of them have been spreading disinformation with impunity.

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Photo by Daniel Schludi on Unsplash
True

The global eradication of smallpox in 1980 is one of international public health's greatest successes. But in 1966, seven years after the World Health Organization announced a plan to rid the world of the disease, smallpox was still widespread. The culprits? A lack of funds, personnel and vaccine supply.

Meanwhile, outbreaks across South America, Africa, and Asia continued, as the highly contagious virus continued to kill three out of every 10 people who caught it, while leaving many survivors disfigured. It took a renewed commitment of resources from wealthy nations to fulfill the promise made in 1959.

Forty-one years later, although we face a different virus, the potential for vast destruction is just as great, and the challenges of funding, personnel and supply are still with us, along with last-mile distribution. Today, while 30% of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated, with numbers rising every day, there is an overwhelming gap between wealthy countries and the rest of the world. It's becoming evident that the impact on the countries getting left behind will eventually boomerang back to affect us all.

Photo by ismail mohamed - SoviLe on Unsplash

The international nonprofit CARE recently released a policy paper that lays out the case for U.S. investment in a worldwide vaccination campaign. Founded 75 years ago, CARE works in over 100 countries and reaches more than 90 million people around the world through multiple humanitarian aid programs. Of note is the organization's worldwide reputation for its unshakeable commitment to the dignity of people; they're known for working hand-in-hand with communities and hold themselves to a high standard of accountability.

"As we enter into our second year of living with COVID-19, it has become painfully clear that the safety of any person depends on the global community's ability to protect every person," says Michelle Nunn, CARE USA's president and CEO. "While wealthy nations have begun inoculating their populations, new devastatingly lethal variants of the virus continue to emerge in countries like India, South Africa and Brazil. If vaccinations don't effectively reach lower-income countries now, the long-term impact of COVID-19 will be catastrophic."

Keep Reading Show less