Vatican apologises after Pope Francis uses derogatory term for gay men

— Pope Francis allegedly used offensive slur during discussion about gay men

One bishop said the Pope might not have been aware that the term was offensive while others said he meant the term as a ‘joke’.

Bishops say pontiff made remark during closed-door debate on admitting homosexual men into seminaries

Pope Francis allegedly used an offensive slur during a discussion with bishops over admitting homosexual men into seminaries, several Italian newspapers have reported.

The pontiff, 87, is alleged to have made the remark during a closed-door meeting with bishops in Rome last week, where they were reportedly discussing whether out gay men should be admitted to Catholic seminaries, where priests are trained, a topic that the Italian bishops conference (CEI) is said to have been pondering for some time.

During the discussion, when one of the bishops asked Francis what he should do, the pope reportedly reiterated his objection to admitting gay men, saying that while it was important to embrace everyone, it was likely that a gay person could risk leading a double life. He is then alleged to have added that there was already too much “frociaggine”, a vulgar Italian word that roughly translates at “faggotness”, in some seminaries.

The story was first reported by the political gossip website Dagospia, before being covered by the Italian dailies La Repubblica and Corriere della Sera, and the news agency Adnkronos.

La Repubblica, Corriere and Adnkronos quoted unnamed bishops, who said that the pontiff meant the derogatory term as a “joke”, and that those around him were surprised and perplexed by the alleged slur. One bishop told Corriere della Sera that the pontiff might not have been aware that the term was offensive.

La Repubblica and Corriere reported that there was a meeting among bishops in November during which it was decided that homosexual men could be admitted to seminaries, so long as they did not practise their sexuality, but that the move was ultimately stopped by the pope.

Since he was elected pope in 2013, Francis has sought to adopt a more inclusive tone towards the LGBTQ+ community in his public statements, much to the disdain of conservative cardinals.

Soon after becoming pope, he famously said in response to a question about gay priests: “Who am I to judge?”

He approved a ruling in December allowing priests to bless unmarried and same-sex couples in what was a significant change of position for the Catholic church.

However, he has been clear about not allowing gay people to join the clergy. In an interview in 2018 he said he was “concerned” about what he describes as the “serious issue” of homosexuality and that being gay is a “fashion” to which the clergy is susceptible.

“In our societies it even seems that homosexuality is fashionable, and that mentality, in some way, also influences the life of the church,” he said at the time.

The Roman Catholic church’s position is that homosexual acts are sinful. A decree on training for priests in 2016 stressed the obligation of sexual abstinence, as well as barring gay men and those who support “gay culture” from holy orders.

The Vatican has apologised after the Pope used a highly offensive word towards gay men.

In a statement, it said: “Pope Francis is aware of the articles recently published about a conversation, behind closed doors, with the bishops of the CEI.

“As he stated on several occasions, ‘In the Church there is room for everyone, for everyone! Nobody is useless, nobody is superfluous, there is room for everyone. Just as we are, all of us.’

“The Pope never intended to offend or express himself in homophobic terms, and he apologises to those who felt offended by the use of a term reported by others.”

Francis made the remark in a closed-door meeting with bishops, when describing priesthood colleges as already too full of “frociaggine” – a highly offensive Italian slur.

He is said to have reiterated that gay men should not be allowed to become priests.

The incident reportedly happened on 20 May, as first reported by political gossip website Dagospia, when the Italian Bishops Conference held a private meeting with the Pope.

“It’s all the fault of some bishop who broke his mandate of silence to report the gaffe that occurred last week,” reported Il Messaggero, a national paper based in Rome.

According to the paper, the Pope’s comments came during an informal Q&A session at the annual bishops’ meeting which was attended by over 200 members of the clergy.

The Pope, 87, has been credited with leading the Roman Catholic Church into taking a more welcoming approach towards the LGBT+ community.

At the start of his papacy in 2013, he said: “If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge?”

Last year, he allowed priests to bless same-sex couples, triggering significant conservative backlash.

But in 2018, he told Italian bishops to carefully vet priesthood applicants and reject anyone suspected of being gay.

In a 2005 document, during Benedict XVI’s papacy, the Vatican said the church could admit into the priesthood those who had overcome gay tendencies for at least three years.

The document said those with “deep-seated” gay tendencies and those who “support the so-called gay culture” should be barred.

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