Pope Francis has stunned Catholics and gay people around the world alike by reportedly calling a gay student to tell him his sexuality does not matter.
Christophe Trutino, 25 from Toulouse in France, had written to the head of the Catholic Church as he was terrified he was going to hell for being gay.
He said, in the uproar over France’s battle over same-sex marriage, he was struggling to stay a believer in the Catholic faith.
On Thursday afternoon, he received a shocking response.
‘I received the letter that you sent me. You need to remain courageous and continue to believe and pray and stay good,’ the Pope reportedly told him.
‘Your homosexuality. It doesn’t matter.’
The French student said the phone call concluded with the Pope asking the student to pray for him and he would do the same in return.
‘When I hung up the phone, I was completely filled with emotion,’ the student told Midi Libre, as reported by The Local.
‘I was shaking. At the same time, the conversation was very relaxed. It was like a call from a friend, nice, very human.’
He said: ‘If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge?’
It is not the first time the Pope has picked up the phone to talk to his faithful. In August, he called a woman who had been raped and had written to the Pontiff for help.
Francis' predecessor Benedict XVI was an extreme opponent of gay rights, once describing homosexuality as a 'defection of human nature'.
UPDATE: The Vatican is now denying the phone call ever took place.
Father Lombardi, a spokesman for the Vatican 'firmly denied' the claims.
'The only time the Pope has called France was to speak to Cardinal Barbarin. I absolutely deny this information,' he told Le Figaro newspaper.
'There is always the risk that people pretend to be the pope over the phone.'