Did a 25-year-old sales assistant from Toulouse receive a phone call from a Vatican dialling code number (397, if you're wondering) telling him: “Your homosexuality… It doesn’t matter”?
That is the claim of Christopher Trutino, who said the leader of the Catholic Church contacted him in a response to a distressed letter he had sent to the Vatican explaining he was terrified he was going to hell for being gay.
"It was he who started the conversation," Trutino said to local Toulouse newspaper, La Dépêche du Midi.
Trutino then relayed his alleged exchange with Pope Francis:
"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 apparently told him.
"Your homosexuality. It doesn’t matter. One way or another, we are all children of God. This is why we must continue to be good," the Pope told him.
The conversation, Trutino said, had been conducted in Spanish – Pope Francis’s mother tongue.
But the Vatican, having initially neither confirmed nor denied the validity of the phonecall, now say it did not take place. Vatican spokesman told French national newspaper Le Figaro:
"The only time the Pope has called France was to speak to Cardinal Barbarin. I absolutely deny this information."
Father Lombardi then warned the paper: "there is always the risk that people [pretend to be] the Pope by phone."