Pope Francis honors gay teen who developed breakthrough cancer test

"It’s really amazing to be recognized by the Vatican, especially as a gay scientist," the 16-year-old said

Published November 18, 2013 1:50PM (EST)

  (AP/Domenico Stinellis)
(AP/Domenico Stinellis)

Pope Francis this weekend honored the 16-year-old science prodigy who developed a cost-effective method to detect pancreatic cancer.

Jack Andraka has received several awards for his breakthrough cancer research, but he says, as a gay scientist, the honor from the Vatican feels uniquely rewarding.

As Andraka told WBAL over the weekend, "It’s really amazing to be recognized by the Vatican, especially as a gay scientist. I mean this would be unheard of just a few years ago. To be part of this bridge of progress is really amazing."

"It just shows how much the world has grown to accept people that are gay and are LGBT. It's really amazing," he added.

Andraka received the International Giuseppe Sciacca Award, which is given to young adults whom the Vatican considers to be positive role models.


By Katie McDonough

Katie McDonough is Salon's politics writer, focusing on gender, sexuality and reproductive justice. Follow her on Twitter @kmcdonovgh or email her at kmcdonough@salon.com.

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Cancer Gay Rights Lgbt Rights Pancreatic Cancer Pope Francis Religion Science Vatican