Christophe Trutino is one of three things: an elaborate troll, one very lucky dude, or the victim of an elaborate hoax. The gay Frenchman says he wrote Pope Francis about his struggle with sexuality and religion, and said he received a phone call from Francis telling him being gay "doesn’t matter." After first keeping mum, the Vatican is now denying it ever happened.
Trutino told his local paper, La Dépêche du Midi (translated by The Local) about the alleged phone call, which supposedly took place last week:
"He said 'Christopher? It's Pope Francis'. I was unsettled, of course. I asked, " Really? " He replied : "Yes."
"I received the letter that you sent me. You need to remain courageous and continue to believe and pray and stay good,” the Pope told him during the nine-minute conversation in Spanish."
Trutino's alleged pep talk with Pope Francis, if real, would signify progress for gay rights. And it would represent a serious change in tone (if not yet official Catholic Church policy) from the way Pope Benedict talked about gays.
Francis's call, if it really happened, would not be entirely surprising. He has, after all, extended an olive branch to homosexuals. "If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge?" Francis said during his trip to Brazil in July, in a widely-parsed and much-celebrated statement.
But does a pope really just call you up out of the blue? Well, sometimes. The Local explains that Pope Francis did "call a woman who had been raped by an Argentinian policeman and had written to the Pontiff asking for help"; also, an Italian teen. Moreover, the Vatican initially did not confirm or deny that the phone call to Trutino took place.
But now that the story is spreading, the Vatican is saying no. “The only time the Pope has called France was to speak to Cardinal Barbarin. I absolutely deny this information," Vatican spokesman Father Lombardi told Le Figaro. Adding, "There is always the risk that people [pretend to be] the Pope by phone."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.