Prime Minister Xavier Bettel & Gauthier Destenay (Facebook)
In a first for the Catholic Church, Pope Francis has received an openly gay head of state and his husband at the Vatican.
Last month, the Prime Minister of Luxembourg, Xavier Bettel, attended a celebration to mark the 60th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome, which created the European Economic Community.
Images have emerged in which Bettel and his husband, Gauthier Destenay, are seen being personally welcomed at the Vatican by Archbishop Ganswein, a senior Catholic official, who is the Prefect of the Papal Household.
The dapper couple, along with the other dignitaries, later took part in a meeting with the Pontiff. Bettel went on to tweet: “It was a great pleasure and honour for me and Gauthier to be welcomed by the leader of the Catholic church. XB”
In May 2015, Bettel became the first gay male leader of a country to enter into a same-sex marriage while in office when he tied the knot with Destenay, who is an architect.
When he came into office in December 2013, Luxembourg became the third country in the world to have an openly gay head of state (Iceland and Belgium were first and second).
Pope Francis previously refused to accept highly respected senior diplomat Laurent Stefanini as France’s official representative at the Vatican, reportedly because he is openly gay.
While Francis has hinted at a willingness to be more accepting of gay people he remains deeply opposed to same-sex relationships and especially gay marriage, describing these as threats to the family. The church has campaigned in a number of countries in a bid to stop the spread of marriage equality.
According to Catholic dogma, gay sexuality is defined as “acts of grave depravity”, as “intrinsically disordered” and “contrary to the natural law”.