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Pope Francis appoints gay man who survived sexual abuse by a priest to Vatican child protection panel

Lily Wakefield March 24, 2021
Juan Carlos Cruz

Juan Carlos Cruz poses for photographers on the red carpet of the 15th edition of Rome film Fest, 2020. (Mondadori Portfolio via Getty/ Insidefoto/ Samantha Zucchi)

Pope Francis has appointed Juan Carlos Cruz, a gay Chilean actor who survived sexual abuse by a priest, to a Vatican panel.

Cruz has been appointed as a member of the Pontifical Council for the Protection of Minors, which was set up by the Pope in 2013 in response to the Catholic church’s sex abuse scandal.

The panel has had clerical child sex abuse survivors appointed to it since its creation, but Cruz is the first openly gay person and first person from Latin America to be appointed, according to the Washington Blade.

Cruz told the publication: “I’m very honoured. I’m a survivor. I’m gay. I’m a lay person. I’m Catholic.”

“It just renews my commitment to change things from within,” he added. “For survivors, for every person who feels disenfranchised from the church.”

Just last week Cruz spoke out against the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, which responded to the question of blessing same-sex unions on behalf of the Vatican, and insisted that God “does not bless sin”.

He told the Associated Press at the time: “If the Church and the CDF do not advance with the world … constantly rejecting and speaking negatively and not putting priorities where they should be, Catholics will continue to flee.”

Now, referring to the Spanish Inquisition, he told the Washington Blade: “As a Catholic, I would immediately ask for a change in the leadership of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which every day resembles that of the infamous Torquemada himself and not that of the pastors that Francis proposes to us.”

Pope Francis told Juan Carlos Cruz that God ‘made him’ gay

In 2018, Juan Carlos Cruz spoke to Pope Francis about his experience of child sex abuse in the Catholic church in Chile, and explained that his ordeal had been dismissed by many bishops because of his sexual orientation.

According to The Guardian, the Pope told Cruz: “Juan Carlos, that you are gay does not matter. God made you like this and loves you like this and I don’t care.

“The pope loves you like this. You have to be happy with who you are.”

 

More: Pope Francis

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