Asunción, Paraguay, Jul 11, 2015 / 10:32 am
Pope Francis modified his schedule on Saturday, July 11, deciding to include this afternoon a visit to the Saint Rafael Foundation, which cares for patients with AIDS and cancer, and which was recently verbally attacked by Paraguay's most prominent gay rights activist.
Simon Cazal, cofounder of the NGO Somosgay (WeAreGay) and principal lobbyist for the legalization of homosexual unions in Paraguay, said recently that Fr. Aldo Trento, director of the Saint Rafael Foundation, is "appalling" and "should die sooner rather than later".
On a May 15 radio program Cazal added – without any further justification – that Fr. Trento witholds medication from patients, saying God will cure them. He also charged that the clinic is run as "a place where people go to die."
Regarding his possible participation in the Pope's meeting with representatives of Paraguayan civil society later this afternoon, Cazal said "it is not a priority" for the gay community "to assist the Pope."
Cazal's accusations and insults against Fr. Trento provoked a quick reaction from the local press. The journalist Juan Manuel Salinas, who knows and who has often interviewed the gay rights activist, called him a liar, adding that Fr. Trento "has served transvestites and prostitutes. There was even a transvestite who came to live at the Foundation, helping the priest in his work – a transvestite to whom many people, including his own family, had turned their backs."
Fr. Aldo Trento also responded to the gay rights activist's accusations, saying in a Youtube video that "I forgive (Cazal)" and noting that "the clinic is a very beautiful work and exists solely for the poor who normally who have terminal illness, both from AIDS and cancer, as well as other diseases".
The Saint Rafael Foundation which the priest directs is not only a palliative care clinic, but also has a farm available for AIDS patients who have recovered, as well as three homes for abandoned children (one dedicated to adolescent victims of rape in their homes) and three homes for the elderly.