The president of a leading Argentinian LGBT rights group has said that the group is not surprised that the Pope said he was “shocked” by gay adoption in Malta.

The Auxiliary Bishop of Malta has said that he met with the Pope on 12 December, and that Pope Francis said he was “shocked” that Malta’s civil unions bill includes provisions to allow gay adoption.

Esteban Paulón, President of the Argentine LGBT Federation, responded to the revelation to say that “the declarations of the Maltese Auxiliary Bishop Charles Scicluna do not surprise us since they clearly show the true position of Pope Francis with respect to sexual diversity. The Vatican again repeats a merciful discourse which treats us as sick people, far from seeing us as subjects with rights”.

He added “we don’t expect a change regarding the teachings on the family from the Vatican hierarchy and we can see the interference which they keep on exercising in all the countries on a daily basis hindering the progress of our rights. But the most painful fact is Pope Francis’ silence in view of the increasing penalization and persecution of homosexuals around the world, especially in Asia, Africa and Eastern Europe. Unfortunately there was not a single word from Pope Francis on India’s Court decision, the restrictive law in Uganda and prohibition of homosexual propaganda in Russia.”

The editor of Telegraph Blogs has also written a column questioning the decision by Time Magazine to name Pope Francis as its Person of the Year, noting a recent revelation that he said he was “shocked” by gay adoption in Malta.

Pope Francis was in early December named Time magazine’s Person of the Year, and then later received the same honour from US LGBT publication the Advocate