Pope Francis apologizes after being exposed using homophobic slur


Pope Francis has issued an apology following reports that he used a highly offensive term to describe gay men during a private meeting with Italian bishops.

The incident, which was first reported by the Italian political gossip website Dagospia, occurred on May 20 during the opening of a four-day assembly of the Italian Bishops Conference. According to sources cited by major Italian newspapers La Repubblica and Corriere della Sera, the 87-year-old Pontiff referred to seminaries being “too full of frociaggine,” a vulgar Italian term roughly translating to “faggotry.”

Reuters reported that the Vatican, which initially did not respond to the reports, addressed the controversy on Tuesday. Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni conveyed the Pope's apology in an emailed statement, clarifying that Pope Francis did not intend to use homophobic language. “The Pope never intended to offend or express himself in homophobic terms, and he apologizes to those who felt offended by the use of a term reported by others,” Bruni said.

Francis, known for his supposed efforts to make the Roman Catholic Church more inclusive, has a history of more accepting statements toward the LGBTQIA+ community. Early in his papacy, in 2013, he famously said, “If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge?”

More recently, he allowed priests to bless same-sex couples, a decision that Pastor Joseph San Jose of Open Table MCC, an LGBT-affirming Church in the Philippines, described as “both something and nothing at the same time.”

“It is something because, given the context and history of their Church, what Pope Francis has been doing and saying will still have some far-reaching ripples within the approximately 1.2 billion Roman Catholic faithful. He has a positive and pastoral impact on many LGBTQIA+ Roman Catholics who have historically been alienated from their Church by the negative rhetoric of Benedict and John Paul,” San Jose said.

“It is nothing because, officially, the Church still considers same-sex attractions ‘intrinsically disordered,’ and same-sex relationships are still considered sinful and irregular despite what psychological associations and the fields of anthropology have already declared,” he added.

The Pope's reported remarks have caused considerable shock and disappointment among his supporters and the broader LGBTQIA+ community. Despite this, Bruni emphasized that Francis remains dedicated to fostering a welcoming Church. He said that the Pope remains committed to a Church where “nobody is useless, nobody is superfluous, and there is room for everyone.”

The incident has brought renewed attention to the Church's complex and often contradictory stance on LGBTQIA+ issues. While Francis has made gestures toward inclusivity, his comments during the meeting with Italian bishops underscore ongoing tensions and divisions within the Church regarding the acceptance of LGBTQIA+ individuals.

In 2018, Francis made similar remarks about gay seminarians, advising bishops to carefully vet priesthood applicants and reject those suspected of being homosexuals. This echoed a 2005 document from the Vatican, issued under Pope Benedict XVI, which stated that the Church could admit into the priesthood those who had overcome homosexual tendencies for at least three years but should bar practicing homosexuals and those with “deep-seated” gay tendencies or those who “support the so-called gay culture.”

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