VATICAN CITY (RNS) Pope Francis will meet a gay married activist in Paraguay next month, according to an LGBT rights group in that country.
The pontiff is due to meet Simon Cazal, co-founder and executive director of SomosGay, on July 11 at the Paraguayan Episcopal Conference in Asuncion, the country’s capital.
Catholic conference organizers approached Cazal earlier this month with an invitation in which they noted the “impact of your organization on Paraguayan society.”
SomosGay said the letter marked a significant shift in the Catholic Church’s attitude towards gay rights groups.
The invitation “symbolizes an openness and progress towards the LGBT community, remembering the ultraconservative context that has always characterized the Vatican,” the organization said in a statement.
The group said it wanted to “pursue the democratic construction of a culture of dialogue,” working towards a diverse and inclusive Paraguayan society.
Francis’ visit to Asuncion is part of his upcoming South American tour, which will include stops in Ecuador and Bolivia. He was last in the region in 2013, on an official trip to Brazil.
The pope raised eyebrows on his return flight from Brazil, when he referenced gay people seeking God and asked: “Who am I to judge?”
But while appearing to hold a more tolerant attitude towards same-sex relationships, Francis has since stated his opposition to gay unions.
Speaking at the Vatican last month, the pope defined marriage as “the alliance of love between a man and a woman.”
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