The Vatican has moved quickly to “absolutely deny”, widespread reports that Pope Francis personally phoned a gay student in Toulouse to say it “doesn’t matter”, whether he is gay or not.

A French daily newspaper Midi Libre, was the origin of the report, which claimed Christophe Trutino, 25, Toulouse, had received the phone call from the Pope after sending a letter voicing concern about being gay and Catholic.

Various news outlets picked up on the report, saying that the Pope said to Trutino: “I received the letter that you sent me. You need to remain courageous and continue to believe and pray and stay good,’ the Pope reportedly told him.

“Your homosexuality. It doesn’t matter.”

Deputy Vatican Spokeman Father Ciro Benedettini has released a brief statement to say that the Vatican “absolutely denies” the report.

The report had claimed that before the conversation ended, Pope Francis asked the student to pray for him, and said that he would do the same for him.

“When I hung up the phone, I was totally 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.”

Back in July, Pope Francis said that gay people should not be judged or marginalised and should be integrated into society.

On Thursday the Vatican also denied reports that Pope Francis phoned Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Speaking to reporters during a plane journey back to the Vatican following his trip to Brazil, the global Catholic leader said: “If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?”

Three years ago as cardinal he warned that efforts to legalise equal marriage in Argentina would “confuse and deceive the children of God.”

In June, he warned the French against following “fashionable ideas” in relation to the country’s equal marriage law.