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Pope Francis Will Hold His First Public Meeting With A Married Gay Activist

The meeting will be held during a visit to the South American country Paraguay — and the meeting was the Catholic Church's idea.

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Simón Cazal (left), executive director of SOMOSGAY, kisses his husband, Sergio López, during their 2012 wedding in Argentina.

Pope Francis is slated to hold his first public meeting with a married gay activist during a visit to Paraguay in July.

The activist is Simón Cazal, executive director of the Paraguayan LGBT rights group SOMOSGAY, who married another SOMOSGAY activist, Sergio López, in neighboring Argentina in 2012. Though the pope has reportedly held pastoral meetings with some LGBT people, this meeting marks the first time he will publicly meet with an LGBT political activist.

Cazal received an invitation on June 4 from the committee of the Paraguayan bishops' conference to participate in a roundtable with the pope and civil society leaders. The invitation — provided to BuzzFeed News by SOMOSGAY — said it was extended in recognition of the "high impact of your organization on Paraguayan society." The meeting will be held on July 11 in the capital, Asunción.

López told BuzzFeed News that the invitation came as a total surprise — the group had not requested to be included in the meeting. Paraguay also is one of the few South American countries where no protections exist for LGBT people or same-sex couples; their marriage in Argentina has no legal force in their country.

The invitation comes shortly after SOMOSGAY launched a campaign calling on the Catholic Church to "abandon the positions of intolerance and insults dehumanizing LGBT people."

SOMOSGAY made international news last June when riot police violently removed LGBT protestors supporting a resolution supportive of LGBT rights when they clashed with religious conservative protestors before the beginning of a meeting of the Organization of American States in Asunción last year.

López told BuzzFeed News on Thursday that they are counting on the pope to "address the issue" of violence targeting LGBT people "since the OAS repression went completely unnoticed and unrecognized by the church here." This was especially galling, López said, because "the whole repression happened during a Catholic march."

This is the invitation from the organizing committee to Simon Cazal.

UNIVERSIDAD CATÓLICA "NUESTRA SEÑORA DE LA ASUNCIÓN"

RECTORADO

Asunción, 04 de junio del 2015.

Sr. Simon Cazal

Director Ejecutivo

SOMOSGAY

Presente

De nuestra consideración:

"Es hora de saber cómo diseñar, en una cultura que privilegie el diálogo como forma de encuentro, la búsqueda de consensos y acuerdos, pero sin separarla de la preocupación por una sociedad justa, memoriosa y sin exclusiones. El autor principal, el sujeto histórico de este proceso, es la gente y su cultura, no es una clase, una fracción, un grupo, una élite. No necesitamos un proyecto de unos pocos para unos pocos, o una minoría ilustrada o testimonial que se apropie de un sentimiento colectivo. Se trata de un acuerdo para vivir juntos, de un pacto social y cultural". (1)

El Papa Francisco visita el Paraguay como "Mensajero de la Alegría y de la Paz" y desea compartir este mensaje en el "Encuentro con la Sociedad Paraguaya por una Cultura de la Confianza" ya que la alegría y la paz parten de la confianza mutua.

La Conferencia Episcopal Paraguaya, a través de la Comisión Organizadora de la Visita de Su Santidad el Papa Francisco, reconoce el alto impacto de su organización en la sociedad paraguaya, por lo que invita a 1 (un) representante de la misma a participar de este encuentro a realizarse en el estadio "León Condou" (Marcelino Noutz casi Avenida España - Asunción), el día sábado 11 de julio. El invitado accederá al estadio entre las 13:00 y las 14:30 hs. Adjuntamos la ficha de registro, que deberá ser devuelta por este medio hasta tres días posteriores a la recepción de esta nota. La invitación es de carácter personal e intransferible y deberá ser retirada del Seminario Metropolitano (Av. Kubitschek 661 y Azara) a partir del 1 de julio.

Contamos con la presencia del representante de su organización como contribución para que este encuentro fortalezca el desarrollo de una cultura de la confianza, que nos permita a todos los paraguayos construir un país mejor.

Reciba nuestro cordial saludo y la bendición en la paz de Nuestro Señor Jesucristo.

Pbro. Dr. Narciso Velázquez Ferreira

Rector – Universidad Católica "Nuestra Señora de la Asunción" ...

(1) Papa Francisco, en la Exhortación Apostólica "Evangelii Gaudium", sobre la anunciación del Evangelio en el mundo actual.

J. Lester Feder is a world correspondent for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, DC. His secure PGP fingerprint is 2353 DB68 8AA6 92BD 67B8 94DF 37D8 0A6F D70B 7211

Contact J. Lester Feder at lester.feder@buzzfeed.com.

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