A Sicilian governor has made up with a priest who took offence when he said that the Catholic Church should elect a female pope and allow equal marriage for gay and lesbian couples.

The openly-gay Governor Rosario Crocetta, said that he met up with Father Luigi Petralia, a parish priest in Gela, and that they “embraced” after the spat.

“This affair belongs to the debate over ideas and the case is closed,” said Crocetta.

Last week, during a TV interview with L7, the centre-left governor compared himself to Galileo, the 17th century Italian astronomer who was forced by the church to deny his discovery that the earth revolved around the sun, reports Ansa.

He said that the church should have “a woman pope, married priests and even to celebrate gay marriage”.

Father Petralia said that the governor would be allowed to return to the church if he showed repentance for his comments, and if he confessed.

Responding to Crocetta’s comments, the priest said that the comments were those “of a showman rather than of a politician or a Christian politician” and that they effectively placed Crocetta “outside the Catholic Church”.

“They are very serious issues that have already been resolved within the Catholic Church, which does not expect answers from Crocetta, seeing as he is neither a biblical scholar nor a theologian, and that he does not hold any other title indicating competence in these matters,” he wrote.

The new pope,Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, 76, publicly opposed equal marriage, and in the past described same-sex marriage and gay couples adopting as a “destructive attack on God’s plan.”

The new pope has also said that same-sex adoption adoption is a form of discrimination and abuse against children.