Juan Carlos Cruz identifies as a gay man. He says Pope Francis recently told him "God made you like this," during a meeting at The Vatican.
Cruz told Francis during the meeting that bishops tried to use his sexual orientation to discredit him.
He said Francis responded by telling him that God made him that way and loves him.
The Vatican would not confirm or deny the private comments.
The Catholic Church considers homosexuality "objectively disordered," though Francis has tried to make the gay community feel more welcome.
Pope: Gays and others marginalized deserve an apology