Pope’s answers offer hope to millions of gay believers

A gay British comedian says a meeting with Pope Francis lifted his burden of guilt and feelings of not belonging – and perhaps those of millions of gay believers across the world.

Stephen K. Amos was on the BBC2 show Pilgrimage: The Road To Rome, which followed eight celebrities as they travelled a section of the Via Francigena, the ancient pilgrimage route from Canterbury to Rome.

They began their pilgrimage in Switzerland and had 15 days to travel to Rome. During the third episode (which was also the last) participants were given the opportunity to meet Francis.

Initially, Amos refused to see Francis.

“I’ve been quite vocal in my criticism in certain aspects of the Catholic Church. I thought a private audience meant you go and see him, he blesses you and you leave. I couldn’t in all conscience go and do that, it’s not me,” he said.

“Then I said I’d only go if we [the other participants and I] can ask questions.

“The producers asked, well, what sort of questions, as we don’t want to spark a diplomatic incident.

“So we gave in some questions and the answer came back from the Vatican that ‘the Pope will answer any questions that you have’”.

During the subsequent meeting with Francis, Amos said to him: “So me coming on this pilgrimage, being non-religious, I was looking for answers and faith. But as a gay man, I don’t feel accepted.”

The pope responded through an interpreter that placing more importance on being gay than being human is “not good”.

“We are all human beings and have dignity. It does not matter who you are or how you live your life, you do not lose your dignity.

“There are people that prefer to select or discard people because of the adjective – these people don’t have a human heart,” Francis replied.

Amos said he was “blindsided” by the response, which he called “quite magnificent.”

“He didn’t shut anybody down, he was very clear in what we said about all being God’s children, all the things you don’t normally hear.

“So I was in full respect of the man.

“I had already planned what I would do if he had said something I didn’t agree with or that would add more shame on people’s lives. I would have respectfully excused myself. I couldn’t live with myself otherwise,” he said.

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News category: World.

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