Pope is ‘concerned’ over traumatising conversion therapy, evangelical lesbian claims

Jayne Ozanne and Pope Francis church of england LGBT

An evangelical lesbian met with the Pope this week at the Vatican, and she said he was “concerned” about the effects of traumatising conversion therapy.

Jayne Ozanne is a British evangelical Anglican who started a foundation to work with “religious organisations around the world to eliminate discrimination based on sexuality or gender in order to embrace and celebrate the equality and diversity of all.”

She presented Pope Francis with information from a study by the Ozanne Foundation showing that of the 458 respondents who had undergone efforts to change their orientation “more than half …reported mental health issues and less than a third said that they ‘have gone on to lead a happy and fulfilled life’.

“Of those who suffered mental health issues (281 people), nearly a third (91 people) said they had attempted suicide while over two-thirds (193 people) said they had had suicidal thoughts.”

22 respondents said they had undergone “forced sexual activity with someone of the opposite gender” in an attempt change.

Ozanne also gave the Pope a copy of her autobiography, which details her 40-year struggle to reconcile being LGBT+ with her religion.

Presented with these facts, Ozanne said Pope Francis showed warmth and concern.

She told Reuters: “[Pope Francis] seemed to understand what conversion therapy was. I thought he was extremely warm, he was very pastoral. He seemed concerned … I felt very embraced.”

She told him she had gone through conversion therapy believing “that [she] could never be a wife, a mother or a grandmother”.

Ozanne told Francis she prays for every person to know that they are “acceptable just as they are”. She said he responded by taking her hands and saying: “Please pray for me as I pray for you.”

Although the Catholic church teaches that “homosexual acts” are sinful, Pope Francis said in 2013: “If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?”