The pontiff recently endorsed same-sex civil unions while being interviewed for a feature-length documentary that premiered at the Rome Film Festival.
Read more: Pope Francis endorses same-sex civil unions
Equality in the Catholic church is something Ken DeLisle has been pushing for, for years.
“When I knew I was gay and Catholic, at first I believed there was no place for me. The Catholic church didn’t welcome gays and lesbians and so I left the church,” DeLisle told Global News.
DeLisle then joined a group called ‘Dignity Canada,’ which focused on working to make Catholic churches a welcoming place for the LGBTQ2 community, but it’s been a challenging journey.
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“I was president (of Dignity Canada) when (Pope Benedict) issued the letter that said we were intrinsically evil, and we could no longer meet on church property,” DeLisle said.
“At that point, I thought we were making some headway with the bishops. But that didn’t happen. They all left us, deserted us, and I thought, ‘OK this is it. This is not going to happen in my lifetime. I need to go to someplace else.’ And I left the church.”
DeLisle says he was both astounded and thrilled by Pope Francis’ statement.
“The Pope’s current statement, to me, is a halleluiah moment, it’s a huge step forward,” DeLisle said. “It doesn’t change policy, it doesn’t change the official teaching, it doesn’t give us full equality because it’s civil unions as opposed to marriage, but that’s a huge step for a Pope to say.”
DeLisle hopes it will encourage more Catholic churches to become more welcoming and supportive of the LGBTQ2 community.
“The Pope’s statement opens doors that were closed. If there are congregations that support the Pope, let the world know, because there are going to be many Catholics who are closeted, who have left the church, who do not feel welcomed. If this statement means something to them, if there is a safe place, they need to know where those safe places are,” he said.
“It’s one thing for the Pope to say it, it’s another for a gay person to walk into a church and know it and feel it.”