Pope Francis is continuing his informal outreach to gay and lesbian Catholics (hat tip, Daily Dish), and, despite his apparent comfort with modern social media and its dizzying gadgetry, he is apparently still happy to make use of old-school communication tools. Pope Francis turned to pen and paper to respond to a letter from a group of gay and lesbian Italian Catholics sent in June, according to the Italian daily La Repubblica (Note: this account in English relies on a Google translation; it may be imperfect). The group had written to Pope Francis in a personal appeal to to be recognized as people and not as a "category." A leader of the impromptu committee said as gay Catholics they had in the past written to other members of the church leadership in Italy and had always before been rewarded with silence.
In their letter, a group of gay and lesbian Catholics organized into the group, Kairos of Florence, asked for openness and dialogue, noting that closure to discussion "always feeds homophobia." The members were shocked to receive a personal response to their appeal from Pope Francis. One leader of the group told La Repubblica "no one had ever even given a nod of response" before. The Kairos group said they also received a letter from the Vatican Secretariat of State, which informed them that Pope Francis "really enjoyed" their letter to him and the way it was written, calling it an act of "spontaneous confidence."
One Kairos leader said Pope Francis had also assured the group of his blessing, something they could not before have imagined happening. The members of Kairos have decided to keep the rest of the message of both letters private.
La Repubblica's Maria Cristina Carratu writes that the pope receives a mountain of mail each day, sent by people hoping to make a personal connection with Pope Francis, thus bypassing the "obstacle" the Roman Curia. Carratu speculates that this "message in a bottle" from Kairos of Florence, or one like it from other gay and lesbian Catholics may have reached the pope and inspired his "breakthrough" on the church's treatment of gay and lesbian Catholics.