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VATICAN (ChurchMilitant.com) - A leading Anglican LGBT activist campaigning to criminalize "reparative therapy" was warmly received by Pope Francis at Casa Santa Marta Thursday in the pontiff's private chapel.
Jayne Ozanne, who led the debate banning reparative therapy (counseling to help get rid of unwanted same-sex attraction) in the Church of England's General Synod, told Pope Francis that that she had tried to make herself straight through "conversion" therapy, and that such treatments had led many young people to consider suicide.
The lesbian activist, who self-identifies as an evangelical Anglican, also said that she had grown up in a Church that told her "she could never be a wife, a mother or a grandmother" and that her prayer was "for everyone to know they are precious children of God, just as they are."
Ozanne asked the Holy Father through a translator whether he knew what "conversion" therapy is (the pejorative used for reparative therapy), and Pope Francis said he did.
The LGBT campaigner also presented Pope Francis with a copy of her autobiography Just Love: A Journey of Self-Acceptance and a brochure of the Ozanne Foundation, which claims to work with "religious organizations around the world to eliminate discrimination based on sexuality or gender in order to celebrate the equality and diversity of all."
Ozanne's memoir has been criticized for its reductionist interpretation of Christianity and its substitution of Moralistic Therapeutic Deism for the gospel of Christ.
"My primary goal had been to find out who I was, and whether being in a relationship with a woman would make me happy," writes Ozanne. "I had no doubt now that I was gay, and that yes, it most certainly did make me happy," she insists.
Ozanne also presented the Pope with the findings of a 2018 Survey into Faith and Sexuality conducted by the Ozanne Foundation. The survey claims that LGBT children of faith subjected to reparative therapy suffer significant harm and mental health issues.
Ozanne's study has received scathing criticism from professionals, including the International Federation for Therapeutic and Counselling Choice, who question "the quality of the research, the theology, and the assumptions about homosexuality that make up the report."
Dr. Walter R. Schumm, professor of Applied Family Science in the College of Health and Human Sciences at Kansas State University, wrote in his foreword to a critique of the Ozanne Foundation report:
Should we therefore outlaw religion in the U.K. and elsewhere because it "inflicts" mental health harm on some people, apparently? If we want to criminalize anything that may lead to some people "hating" themselves, why not ban both the Anglican church and conversion therapy, as it was only a matter of degree in their "hating self effects on some people?
A day before Pope Francis met Ozanne, he met Justin Welby, archbishop of Canterbury, at Casa Santa Marta. Welby was accompanied by Abp. Ian Ernest, director of the Anglican Centre in Rome and Representative of the Anglican Communion to the Holy See.
Sources told Church Militant that Welby is the one who had facilitated Ozanne's meeting with the Pope, but media spindoctors had been told to keep the two meetings apart.
Speaking to Church Militant, former Queen's Chaplain Bp. Gavin Ashenden said it is a matter of great sadness that Ozanne is now using the meeting to persuade Pope Francis that praying for people afflicted with disordered sexual desires should be banned.
"If you want to know where Justin Welby's heart and vision are, look no further than the meeting which he facilitated between Jayne Ozanne and Pope Francis," Dr. Ashenden said.
"There is sad convergence between the scandal that Amazonian fertility idols have created within the Catholic Church, and the scandal that Ms. Ozanne's campaign to ban prayer for Christian transformation and holiness has produced," he continued. "She has become, in effect, Justin Welby’s own Pachamama, but with sterility replacing fertility."
Ozanne's promotion of secular feminism, with the determination to lock people into homosexual experience, has become a totemic religious perversion of the faith, contradicting both Bible and 2,000 years of tradition. For faithful Christians it is a scandal that Welby should use his visit to Rome to promote a movement that bans prayer and help for troubled Christians seeking both.
Ozanne is a founding member of the Archbishops' Council for the Church of England and has been strongly supported by Welby in her campaigning for LGBT causes.
The meeting has scandalized conservative Anglicans who see Ozanne as defying biblical teaching on sexuality while calling herself evangelical and charismatic.
Andrea Minichiello Williams, member of the Church of England's General Synod and chief executive of Christian Concern, told Church Militant, "As Jayne Ozanne meets with the Pope I am at a meeting that has been forced underground with some 200 people, including leading experts, medics and counsellors who work with men and women who choose to leave their homosexual and transgender past."
"Here are many stories of compassion, repentance, healing and hope. It is a betrayal of the Gospel to encourage sin rather than warn people about it," she added. "We are underground, because the authorities will not hear these stories. There are multiple testimonies to the transforming power of Jesus Christ who offers to re-orient every one of us from our sins to the path of freedom in holiness."
Earlier, columnist Dr. Will Jones slammed Ozanne's campaign pushing the U.K. government to ban reparative therapy:
So it's not just therapy for gay people it would ban, it's therapy for transgender people as well. It would prohibit any effort to help someone who suffered with gender dysphoria to accept and live as their biological sex, even if they wanted such help. It would require everyone to affirm people's claims about what their "gender identity" is and make it a criminal offence to take any action (even if requested by the person themselves) aimed at bringing their psychology in line with their biology.
Ozanne has since uploaded pictures of her meeting with the pontiff on her social media pages and website. "Today I had the immense privilege of presenting #JustLove and research to @Pontifex," she notes. "He [the Pope] then took my hands & said 'Please pray for me as I pray for you.'"
Meanwhile, Pope Francis and Justin Welby have agreed to visit South Sudan together if the political situation in the country permits the creation of a transitional government of national unity in the coming 100 days.