White House invites gay Catholic to help welcome Pope
A prominent gay Catholic is to welcome Pope Francis upon his arrival in Washington D.C.
Aaron Jay Ledesma is well known for blogging about his connection to his faith, God, and the Catholic Church.
The 23-year-old gay claims that he has been on a quest to find signs that God is still with him despite his sexuality – and says he got one last month—by way of a phone call from the White House.
The White House has invited Mr Ledesma to join President Obama in welcoming Pope Francis to the USA later this month.
“Any religious person is searching for signs and affirmation for their faith,” Ledesma said of the invite.
“This is in a way a miracle,” he added.
Mr Ledesma wrote to President Obama when he heard the pope was visiting the White House and asked if could attend, reports Fusion.
Last month, he says the White House Office of Presidential Correspondence responded, telling him they had been moved by his letter, before extending an invitation to the ceremony with the pope.
“I thought to myself, ‘I hope no one is messing with me and I’m not getting punked.’ There’s just no words to describe what I felt,” Ledesma said.
However, he does not know if he’ll actually get to meet the pope.
“I think I’m being treated like everyone else that’s allowed to go,” he said.
Although Mr Ledesma says he believes the Pope supports gay rights – and would “hug and thank him” if they do meet – many have questioned the religious leader’s approach to LGBT equality.
Proposals to ‘reach out’ to gay people were scrapped by the Church last year – and despite claims that the plans would return at a 2015 Synod, a working paper indicates the Church has no plans to discuss the matter again.
The Pope has also rallied against same-sex marriage, inviting representatives from listed hate groups to a ‘traditional marriage’ conference, and recently urging Slovakians to vote against equal marriage.
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In July, a US Archbishop banned people from discussing LGBT rights during a Philadelphia conference that is set to be attended by the Pope.
A New York man has launched a petition urging Pope Francis to meet with LGBT Catholics during his visit.
“We want the Pope to lead by example and meet with lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Catholics and their families during his visit. We strongly believe this meeting would promote great healing and reconciliation in our Church and society,” Nicholas Coppola wrote in his Change.org petition that launched this week.
He’s halfway through his goal of 5,000 signatures.
On Thursday, GLAAD and DignityUSA – an organisation for LGBT Catholics – also sent a letter to the Vatican requesting a meeting with Pope Francis. The letter was signed by 28 civil rights groups.
The Catholic leader – who has also compared transgender people to nuclear weapons – is yet to respond