A gay Catholic man has been invited to the White House to meet with President Obama and Pope Francis.
Aaron Ledesma, 23, writes a blog called “The Gay Catholic.” In early August he was looking for topic to cover when he read that Pope Francis was coming to America September 23-27 for a three-city tour - and that one of the stops would be in Washington, D.C., not far from Ledesma's home in Richmond. Ledesma contacted the White House via an online form, discussing his experience as a Catholic who is also homosexual.
On his blog Ledesma, a graduate of the Jesuit school Marquette University and the communications manager for Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity, describes what happened next (bold in the original):
On Thursday, August 13, a miracle happened. While I was working SigEp’s 54th Grand Chapter Conclave, I received a phone call from a blocked number. Thinking it was work related, I answered the phone saying, “This is Aaron.”
On the other end a gentlemen responded saying he was from the White House Office of Presidential Correspondence. He told me they received my message and were moved by it. Then, he said words that brought tears to my eyes…
We would like to invite you and one guest to join us for Pope Francis’ visit to the White House.
Minutes later, I hung up my phone. I began crying in my hotel room. I called my mom and told her the news. I sat there thinking to myself, “Look how far you’ve come, Aaron.”
Since then I’ve received two emails from the White House. One from the correspondent regarding the event. And the other, from the President.
"Each day, people in Virginia and across our country are striving for a brighter future by working hard and embracing the optimism that has driven America forward for generations," the note from the president read in part. "As long as I'm President, I'll keep pouring everything I have into reaching for that future, too. I'm confident that together, we can ensure ours is a nation where all things are possible for all people."
When asked by a reporter what he would say to the Holy Father, Ledesma, who says he does not wade into the question of whether gay Catholics should be allowed to marry, replied, "I would tell the Holy Father how much it means to someone to hear you are loved, you are supported." He added that he doesn't feel any contradiction between his homosexuality and his faith - "It is a misconception. You can be Catholic and be gay."