Pope Francis is expected to meet with a married gay activist in a planned visit to Paraguay in July, the Paraguayan Episcopal Conference announced on Friday.
The Pope’s meeting with Simon Cazal, executive director of the LGBTI group SOMOSGAY, will be the first time the religious authority figure holds a public meeting with a gay activist.
"In a culture that favors dialogue ... it's time to learn how to create the search for consensus and agreements,” said the Paraguayan Episcopal Conference in a statement.
According to Cazal, the meeting will “mark a rupture with the rhetoric of the Catholic Church’s ultraconservative wing,” which he labeled as the most significant vilifiers of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people in Paraguay.
His organization SOMOSGAY recently launched a campaign urging the Catholic Church to end the dehumanization of LGBTI people in the country. Cazal told news agency EFE that a majority of LGBTI Paraguayans are religious but find themselves “tormented by a fictitious contradiction between religious faith and sexual orientation established by backward fringes of the Church.”
“An LGBT person should not have to be forced to renounce their religion in order to freely live their sexuality.”
LGBTI people are among the most vulnerable in the landlocked South American country, enjoying no legal protection or recognition from the state. The meeting is expected to take place together with other community leaders in the capital Asuncion during the Pope’s visit planned for 10 to 12 July.
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