Only one pope in the history of the Catholic Church could have uttered the following words:
‘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.’
Speaking to a gay Chilean victim of clerical sex abuse last month, Pope Francis – yes, you guessed it – appeared to press the 'delete' button on the Church's teaching that homosexuality is 'intrinsically disordered'. As I say in this week's Spectator, the Vatican hasn't denied Juan Carlos Cruz's account of the conversation. So, even if Francis didn't use precisely those words, he's happy for them to be out there.
Homosexuality was the subject that reduced the Anglican Communion to rubble. Is the same about to happen to the Catholic Church, whose chief pastor is moving ever closer to embracing LGBT rights – while the only place his congregations are growing on a significant scale is Africa, the world's most gay-averse continent?
In the new Holy Smoke podcast, I discuss this question with the moral theologian Fr Alexander Lucie-Smith. I can't remember the last time I heard a Catholic priest speak so frankly (but sensitively) on this most difficult of subjects. Don't miss it.