Vatican denies Pope made call to gay Catholic
Published: 06 Sep 2013 09:54 GMT+02:00
Updated: 06 Sep 2013 09:54 GMT+02:00
The Vatican firmly denied reports in France on Friday that Pope Francis had telephoned a young gay French Catholic to reassure him. Christophe Trutino had claimed in a newspaper interview the Pontiff had told him “Your homosexuality. It doesn't matter" in a personal call.
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Father Lombardi, a spokesman for the Vatican “firmly denied” claims by the young gay Catholic that the Pope had made a private telephone call to him last week.
After previously declining to deny or confirm the call, in which Christophe Trutino claimed the Pope told him “Your homosexuality doesn’t matter” Lombardi told Le Figaro newspaper: “The Pope never called this person.”
“The only time the Pope has called France was to speak to Cardinal Barbarin. I absolutely deny this information," he said.
“There is always the risk that people pretend to be the pope over the phone,” Lombardi added.
Trutino a 25-year-old sales assistant from Toulouse in the south west of France claimed to have written to the Pope to explain his difficulties in reconciling his sexuality with his faith.
In an interview with La Depeche du Midi Trutino said he received a response at the end of August, in a surpise phone call.
"It was he who started the conversation," Trutino told local newspaper La Dépêche du Midi. " 'He said 'Christopher? It's Pope Francis'. I was unsettled, of course. I asked, " Really? " He replied : "Yes."
"I know it's hard to believe, but it really happened like that. From that moment on , I no longer doubted," said the young Frenchman.
“I received the letter that you sent me. You need to remain courageous and continue to believe and pray and stay good,” the voice at the end of the phone told him during the nine-minute conversation in Spanish.
“Your homosexuality. It doesn’t matter. One way or another , we are all children of God. This is why we must continue to be good," he continued.
Trutino said the phone call concluded with the person he believed to be the Pope asking the young man to pray for him and that he would do the same in return.
“When I hung up the phone, I was completely filled with emotion," the student told Midi Libre.
"I was shaking. At the same time, the conversation was very relaxed. It was like a call from a friend, nice, very human.”
When initially contacted by La Depeche du Midi the director of the Vatican's press office said they could not comment on private matters and declined to confirm or deny that Pope had made the call.
However with the Vatican's denial it now appears he was either the victim of a hoax or made up the whole story himself.
When contacted by The Local the Vatican press office could not confirm whether they had ever received a letter from the Trutino, and simply stressed that Father Lombardi had denied the young man's story.
Pope Francis had expressed his tolerance towards homosexuality on a visit to Brazil earlier this year when he said “If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge?"
And the Pontiff has been known to pick up the phone to talk to his faithful. In August he called a woman who had been raped by an Argentinian policeman and had written to the Pontiff asking for help.
“You’re not alone,” he told her.
And last month The Local Italy reported how the Pope had made a phone call to an Italian teenager, who had also written a letter to him.