The Pope has shown “concern” for a lesbian Christian survivor of gay ‘conversion therapy’ that he met Thursday in an audience.
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British Evangelical Jayne Ozanne spoke with the Thomson Reuters Foundation from the Vatican after attending Mass with the Pope at his private chapel and sharing a conversation with him.
Francis “seemed to understand what conversion therapy was”, Ozanne said, referring to medically-discredited attempts to ‘cure’ homosexuality and change one’s gender identity.
“I thought he was extremely warm, he was very pastoral”, she continued.
“He seemed concerned… I felt very embraced”.
Ozanne took to Twitter after her meeting to celebrate the “immense privilege” of meeting the Pope.
She said she explained to Francis that she herself was a victim of conversion therapy, after the Church told her she “could never be a wife, a mother or a grandmother”.
She also revealed she told Francis that she prays that every person feels they are “acceptable just as they are”.
The Pope “then took my hands & said ‘Please pray for me as I pray for you'”, Ozanne said.
Ozanne also said she took advantage of her meeting with the Pope to present him with research of hers on the harm caused by conversion therapy, which can involve everything from counselling to electroshock treatment.
Even though studies have shown the therapy is ineffectual and can even lead to depression and suicide attempts, anti-gay, conservative religious groups still continue to subject followers to it.
Earlier this month, German Health Minister Jens Spahn introduced a draft bill that would ban conversion therapy for under-18s in the country, under pain for practioners of a fine or up to a year in prison.
The controversial treatment would still be available to adults, but the BBC said “they would have to show that they had not been deceived, coerced or threatened into taking part”.
Still, the new legislation in Germany – where an estimated 1,000 people suffer through conversion therapy every year – has led to calls to ban the practice throughout Europe.
Just recently, cases of harmful outcomes for patients have been revealed in Spain, Switzerland and the UK.