Pope Francis reportedly welcomed a transgender man from Spain to the Vatican

According to several news outlets, Pope Francis reportedly welcomed a Spanish transgender man and his fiancé to the Vatican. The newspaper Hoy, from the Extremadura region of Spain, tells the story of Diego Neria Lejárraga, a transgender Catholic who faced rejection from his church and fellow parishioners in Plasencia because of his gender identity. The Washington Post notes that the Vatican has neither confirmed nor denied Lejárraga's story of the meeting.

Last year, Lejárraga decided to write a letter to Pope Francis about his struggle to remain in the Catholic Church. "After hearing him on many occasions, I felt that he would listen to me," Lejárraga told Hoy. On Christmas Eve, Lejárraga says his letter was answered with a phone call from the pope himself, who said Lejárraga's words had moved him, and that he would call again to arrange a meeting. A few days later, Pope Francis called again.

Lejárraga told Hoy:

“The first call was already so much more than what I had expected. The second, I couldn’t believe this was happening to me. Because I know that my situation is nothing. There are so many people who suffer in this world.”

After setting a date for earlier this month, Lejárraga arrived at the Vatican. There, he says he met with Pope Francis, and upon asking whether or not there was space for him in the Catholic faith, the pope embraced him.

Lejárraga's story is not the first suggesting a new attitude towards LGBT people brought about by Pope Francis. In July of 2013, Pope Francis responded to a questions about a reported "gay lobby" within the Vatican, saying in part, "If someone is gay, who searches for the Lord and has goodwill, who am I to judge," surprising many who are familiar with his previous anti-LGBT comments. Later in 2013, he criticized the Roman Catholic hierarchy's focus on persecuting LGBT people, along with other issues.