Pope Francis reportedly issues another surprising statement about homosexuality

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      For countless generations, Roman Catholic clergy have harboured deep prejudices about physical love expressed between same-sex couples.

      In a letter to Catholic bishops in 1986, Pope John Paul II described homosexuality as a "problem" while making a distinction between being gay or lesbian and individual actions.

      "Although the particular inclination of the homosexual person is not a sin, it is a more or less strong tendency ordered toward an intrinsic moral evil; and thus the inclination itself must be seen as an objective disorder," Pope John Paul II stated.

      He went on to say that "special concern and pastoral attention should be directed toward those who have this condition".

      This was to ensure that they are not "led to believe that living out this orientation in homosexual activity is a morally acceptable option".

      "It is not," Pope John Paul II emphatically declared, much to the chagrin of gay and lesbian Catholics around the world.

      Thus it came as a surprise to many that Pope Francis has been quoted telling a Chilean man that God made him gay and loved him.

      The comments to Juan Carlos Cruz were recently reported in El Pais, which is a Spanish newspaper. This came after the pontiff spoke to him privately in the wake of a sex-abuse scandal involving a notorious Chilean priest, Fernando Karadima.

      The Guardian covered the story and included the following quote attributed to Cruz: "He told me, ‘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.’ "

      The Vatican would not confirm that this is an accurate reflection of the pope's actual comments to Cruz.

      In 2013 while speaking to reporters on a plane, Pope Francis made another comment suggesting he has a more open-minded view of homosexuality than his predecessors: "If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has goodwill, who am I to judge? The catechism of the Catholic Church explains this very well. It says they should not be marginalized because of this but that they must be integrated into society."

      He has not, however, gone so far as to say he won't judge expressions of physical love between gays or lesbians.