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Pope Francis delivers his speech during the Angelus prayer, at St. Peter's square in the Vatican, on June 27, 2021. Photo: Tiziana Fabi/AFP via Getty Images

A Jesuit priest who ministers to LGBTQ Catholics tweeted a letter from Pope Francis praising his work on Sunday.

Why it matters: The letter was delivered the same week the Vatican protested a proposed Italian law that would criminalize hate speech against the LGBTQ community, continuing a pattern of mixed signals from the Church.

Context: Francis has expressed support for the LGBTQ community over the years. Last October, he made news when his endorsement of same-sex civil unions was made public through a documentary.

What they're saying: Francis' letter, which is written in Spanish and dated June 21, is a response to Father James Martin, who had sent a communique referencing the Outreach LGBTQ Ministry Conference.

  • "I want to thank you for your pastoral zeal and your ability to be close to people, with the closeness that Jesus had, and which reflects the closeness of God," the Pope wrote, according to a translation of the letter posted on Martin's Twitter.
  • "Our Heavenly Father comes close with love to each one of his children, each and everyone. His heart is open to each and everyone," the letter continues. "You are a priest for all men and women, just as God is a Father for all men and women."
  • He added that he will pray for Martin's "flock" to grow.

"A growing dissonance has developed between his inclusive language and the church’s actions," the New York Times writes.

  • "The result is confusion and frustration among some of the pope’s liberal supporters who wonder whether the 84-year-old Argentine remains committed to a more tolerant church and is simply struggling to grasp the rapidly shifting contours of a difficult issue, or is really a social conservative trying to please everyone."
  • "What is clear is that the new note will serve as fresh fodder in a battle within the church," the Times writes.

Be smart: The Pope "does want to foster an environment of inclusion for them in the church, but often the Vatican teaching and official policy doesn't line up with the pope's personal message," National Catholic Reporter correspondent Christopher White told Axios' Niala Boodhoo in March.

The big picture: The majority of American Catholics have backed same-sex marriage since 2011, per Gallup.

Go deeper: The Vatican’s decree on same-sex unions

Go deeper

Sep 14, 2021 - World

Pope criticizes use of the cross as a political symbol

Pope Francis gives a speech in Bratislava, Slovakia. Photo: Gabriel Kuchta/Getty Images

Pope Francis warned against using the cross as a symbol for partisan means on Tuesday during his trip to Slovakia, saying it shouldn't be reduced to a political or status symbol, the New York Times reports.

Why it matters: Pope Francis has a habit of speaking more critically about a country after he has left it, the Times notes. The remarks, said in Slovakia, come days after his visit to Hungary, where several political parties have crosses on their party flags.

UN chief urges U.S. and China to fix "dysfunctional relationship"

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres during a Sept. 13 press conference in Geneva. Photo: Fabrice COFFRINI / Coffini/AFP via Getty Images

United Nations chief Antonio Guterres raised concerns in an interview with AP, published Monday, of another Cold War between the U.S. and China.

Why it matters: Guterres made the comments ahead of this week's UN General Assembly in New York. Guterres told AP the U.S.-U.K. deal to provide nuclear-powered submarines to Australia "is just one small piece of a more complex puzzle ... this completely dysfunctional relationship between China and the United States."

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

FBI says human remains found in Wyoming likely Gabby Petito

Gabby Petito. Photo: FBI

Human remains found in Teton County, Wyoming, are "consistent with the description of" missing 22-year-old Gabby Petito, FBI Denver official Charles Jones said at a news conference Sunday.

Details: The cause of death had yet to be determined, but Jones said: "Full forensic identification has not been completed to confirm 100% that we found Gabby, but her family has been notified of this discovery." Authorities said they're continuing the search for her fiancé, Brian Laundrie.