Bishops 'Shocked' at Word the Pope Used in a Meeting

Francis has apologized for using gay slur during private debate on gay individuals becoming priests
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted May 28, 2024 8:49 AM CDT
Pope Apologizes for Gay Slur During Private Meeting
Pope Francis holds his weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican on Wednesday.   (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

Pope Francis has been more publicly welcoming of the LGBTQ+ community than his predecessors, but according to Italian media, his language behind closed doors caused a stir that has the pontiff apologizing. Reuters cites newspapers La Repubblica and Corriere Della Sera in reporting that the 87-year-old pope used a slur directed at gay men last week during a private meeting with Italian bishops in which Francis lobbied against the possibility of gay individuals becoming priests. The pope is said to have noted in the May 20 gathering that seminaries are already teeming with frociaggine, Italian for the English word also starting with "f" that's often used to disparage gay men.

Per NBC News, some bishops in the room with Francis were surprised, even "shocked," at his wording, mainly because of the pope's track record of pushing for a more inclusive environment in the Catholic Church. Some unidentified bishops in the room reportedly thought his remarks were a "joke," with one bishop wondering if maybe the pope didn't know the word was an offensive one because he was speaking in Italian, per the Guardian. Although it's still not entirely clear why he chose to use that term, a Vatican spokesman on Tuesday issued Francis' mea culpa.

"The pope never intended to offend or express himself in homophobic terms, and he extends his apologies to those who were offended by the use of a term that was reported by others," Matteo Bruni said in a statement, per the AP. Although Francis has opened his arms more to the LGBTQ+ community since taking control of the papacy, including by greenlighting priests being able to bless same-sex couples last year, he has slipped up before in his comments. In a 2018 interview, the pope brought up the "serious issue" of homosexuality and said he was "concerned" about it. He also apparently nixed the idea in November of admitting gay men to seminaries, which his bishops had finally decided was OK, as long as those entrants didn't practice their sexuality. (More Pope Francis stories.)

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