Pope Francis apologizes for using homophobic slur during meeting with Italian bishops

Vatican issues statement reaffirming Catholic Church's stance on inclusivity, despite controversial remarks on gay priesthood candidates.

Pope Francis apologizes for using homophobic slur during meeting with Italian bishops
AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia
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Pope Francis has issued a rare apology for using an offensive anti-gay slur during a closed-door meeting with Italian bishops last week. The 87-year-old pontiff reportedly made the homophobic remark while discussing the issue of gay men being allowed to train for the priesthood, referring to homosexuals as "frociaggine," which translates to "faggotry."

In a Tuesday statement, the Vatican clarified, "The Pope never intended to offend or express himself in homophobic terms, and he extends his apologies to those who felt offended by the use of a term, as reported by others." The statement went on to emphasize the Church's stance on inclusivity, quoting Pope Francis: "As he [Pope Francis] has said on several occasions, 'in the Church there is room for everyone, everyone! No one is useless, no one is superfluous, there is room for everyone. Just as we are, everyone.'"

The controversial comments came to light on Monday when two Italian newspapers, Corriere della Sera and La Repubblica, reported on the May 20 meeting, citing sources in attendance. The articles, translated from Italian, claimed the Pope had used the term "frociaggine" — an offensive noun roughly equivalent to "faggotry" in English — while referring to some seminaries, CNN reported.

Pope Francis' remarks were made in the context of proposals from the Italian bishops to amend guidelines on candidates for seminaries. The Vatican had previously ruled in 2005 that the Church cannot allow the ordination of men who are actively gay or have "deep-seated" homosexual tendencies, a ruling that Francis upheld in 2016.

Two years later, he instructed the Italian bishops not to accept gay candidates for the priesthood.

The Corriere della Sera newspaper noted the Argentine pope, who speaks Italian as a second language, may not have been fully aware of the offensive nature of his language, adding the bishops reacted to the remark with incredulous laughter.

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