Pope Francis has reportedly called a young gay Catholic man in France to reassure him about his sexuality.
Christophe Trutino had written to the Pope to emotionally explain his inner turmoil in reconciling his sexuality with his faith, explaining how he was terrified he was going to hell for being gay, local media reported.
The 25-year-old sales assistant from Toulouse said that due to the ongoing row over France’s battle over same-sex marriage, he was struggling to stay a believer in the Catholic faith.
Trutino said he was left stunned when he then received a phone call from the head of the Catholic Church himself.
“Your homosexuality. It doesn't matter”, the Pope reportedly told him, according to the local newspaper La Dépêche du Midi.
"It was he who started the conversation," Trutino said, according to a translation on The Local.
"He said 'Christopher? It's Pope Francis'. I was unsettled, of course. I asked, " Really? " He replied : "Yes."
“I received the letter that you sent me. You need to remain courageous and continue to believe and pray and stay good,” the Pope told him during the nine-minute conversation in Spanish.
“Your homosexuality. It doesn’t matter. One way or another , we are all children of God. This is why we must continue to be good," the Pope told him.
There has been a rise in French homophobia following a spike in anti-gay marriage protestors.
Trutino said the phone call ended with the Pope asking him to pray for him and that he would do the same in return.
“When I hung up the phone, I was completely filled with emotion," he told local paper Midi Libre.
"I was shaking. At the same time, the conversation was very relaxed. It was like a call from a friend, nice, very human.”
The Vatican has not confirmed yet whether the phone call took place.
While Francis' predecessor Benedict XVI was an extreme opponent of gay rights – once describing homosexuality as a "defection of human nature" – the most recent Pope has expressed his tolerance towards homosexuality.
During his recent visit to Brazil he said: "If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge?"