Pope Francis responded personally to a letter from a group of gay and lesbian Italian Catholics sent in June, according to the Italian daily La Repubblica.
The group called – Kairos of Florence, asked for more openness and dialogue, noting that closure to discussion on issues faced by the LGBT Community “always feeds homophobia”.
The Kairos group said they also received a letter from the Secretariat of State, saying Pope Francis “really enjoyed” their letter and the way it was written. The Pope reportedly assured the group of his blessing, but Kairos has since decided to keep the rest of both letters private.
The letter was not the first of its kind to be sent to a pope, but one Kairos leaders, Innocent Pontillo, said that on previous occasions “No one had ever even given a nod of response.”
Last week La Repubblica published a lengthy interview with Pope Francis carried out by the paper’s former editor, Eugenio Scalfari. And last month the paper published a personal letter Pope Francis had sent to Scalfari in response to an open letter the journalist wrote to the Pope.
Pope Francis has already grabbed news headlines with his off-the-cuff homilies, crowd-pleasing one-liners and lengthy interviews during which he has pontificated on everything from the church’s “obsession” with rules to how he won’t judge gays.
In september 2013 Pope Francis added that the Catholic Church has become too focused on preaching about abortion, gay people and contraception and needs to become more merciful.
His remarks caused dismay among clergy in the United States who have already expressed disappointment that Francis has not pressed on the importance of the Church’s traditional teaching on abortion, contraception and homosexuality.
For now it seems that all of the signs are pointed in the right direction and at long last a pope is attempting to connect with the worldwide gay community. For the first time ever, gay Catholics can hear the words “pope” and “gay” in the same sentence without getting that gut wrenching feeling inside.
By John Stewart