French Student Critically Injured Defending A Gay Couple Gets Private Audience With Pope Francis

"I am thinking of you all on this special day for me. I leave full of strength, courage and hope."

Pope Francis met privately this week with a French student who was seriously injured while protecting a gay couple from attackers in 2016.

“An incredible encounter with an exceptional man,” Marin, 20, wrote in a caption to a photo with Francis that was posted on a Facebook page of the association Je soutiens Marin (“I Support Marin”), founded by his parents to support those with traumatic brain injuries. “I am thinking of you all on this special day for me. I leave full of strength, courage and hope.”

In November 2016, Marin came to the defense of a gay couple in Lyon who were being assaulted by a gang of young people who had seen them kiss at a bus stop. After he attempted to intercede, Marin was hit repeatedly in the back of the head with a crutch, leaving him in a coma for weeks. Doctors had to remove a quarter of his skull to stop the swelling on his brain.

His injuries required numerous operations and resulted in severe neurological damage. Marin is currently living in a rehabilitation center in Switzerland, where he documents his progress via social media.

Pope Francis has a mixed record on LGBT issues, opposing marriage equality but showing some support for civil unions. In 2013 he famously asked “who am I to judge?” in regards to gay people.

The Pope’s statements regarding transgender people have been less gracious, though: Francis once described them as part of a “global war” on the family.

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