Pope Francis said Sunday he has made outreach gestures towards gays throughout his career within the Catholic clergy and even invited a transsexual for a private chat at the Vatican.
“In my life as priest, bishop and even pope I have accompanied people with homosexual tendencies and even practicing homosexuals,” he said in an airborne press conference on the way back from a trip to Georgia and Azerbaijan.
He said being gay is not a cause “for celebration” in Catholic eyes, but people with “this condition” must be walked with, brought closer to God, treated on a case-by-case basis and integrated into the Catholic Church.
“This is what Jesus would do today,” Francis said. “When a person that has this condition arrives before Jesus, Jesus would definitely not say, ‘go away because you are a homosexual,’” he added.
The pope said the transsexual, a Spaniard who was born a woman but is now registered as a man, wrote to him saying he had “suffered a lot” and would “find consolation” if Francis agreed to meet him and the woman he married after a sex change operation.
“I gave them an audience and they were happy,” the pontiff said.