Roman Catholic Church leader Pope Francis has reportedly told a gay man who is a victim of clerical sex abuse that God made him gay and loves him the way he is.
Juan Carlos Cruz, a survivor of sexual abuse, told CNN that he spent three days with the pontiff at the Vatican in April, where he described how he was abused by a Chilean priest.
Cruz told Francis that he is gay. Cruz said the Vatican leader then told him: "You know Juan Carlos, that does not matter. God made you like this. God loves you like this. The Pope loves you like this and you should love yourself and not worry about what people say."
When CNN asked Vatican spokesman Greg Burke to comment, he responded: "We do not normally comment on the Pope's private conversations."
Francis has been hailed in the past by some LGBT advocacy publications, such as The Advocate, for previous remarks that some viewed as pro-gay.
Back in 2013, when asked if there was a gay lobby at the Vatican, he responded: "If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?"
The Vatican clarified at the time that the pontiff continues to uphold the definition of marriage as a union solely between one man and one woman, which is the official Catholic position.
Francis has himself said that "the complementarity of man and woman ... is at the root of marriage and family," a position he has defended on numerous occasions.
Other controversial statements — such as on the existence of Hell, and the possibility of salvation for atheists — Francis has made in private have garnered headlines throughout his papacy.
Meanwhile, all 31 Catholic bishops in Chile have offered their resignations to Francis in the wake of the sex abuse scandals that have gripped the country.
Cruz was reportedly just one of many victims of abuse and subsequent church cover-up over the years.
The Vatican found the Rev. Fernando Karadima guilty of abusing Cruz and several other teenage boys in 2011, though the priest has denied the accusations.
Last month, Francis admitted that there were "serious mistakes" on his part regarding the "assessment and perception of the situation, especially because of a lack of truthful and balanced information."
"From now on I ask forgiveness from all those I offended and I hope to do so personally in the coming weeks, in the meetings I will have with representatives of the persons interviewed," the pope added in a latter.