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Pope Francis presides over mass in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican on Sunday, 26 May Alamy Stock Photo

Pope Francis apologises after reported use of homophobic slur

A statement from the Vatican said that the pope was ‘aware’ of recent articles about a ‘behind closed doors’ conversation with Italian bishops.

POPE FRANCIS HAS issued an apology after a row over offensive language he was reported to have used to describe gay men.

A statement from the Vatican said that the pope was “aware” of recent articles about a “behind closed doors” conversation with Italian bishops.

“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,” said the statement from the Vatican.

The statement added: “’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.’”

It was reported in Italian media yesterday that Pope Francis had used an offensive word towards gay men during a meeting with Italian bishops.

It was also reported that he joked about the number of gay men in seminaries.

During the private meeting understood to have taken place on 20 May, the 87-year-old pontiff was reported to have used the derogatory Roman term “frociaggine”, which translates loosely as “faggotness”.

Francis is reported to have also repeated his opposition to openly gay men joining priest training colleges, and then joked that there were “already too many ‘frociaggine’” in some seminaries.

The comment first appeared in daily Italian newspaper La Repubblica and then the Corriere della Sera, which reported the view of some of those present that the pope did not realise how offensive the word was.

The Argentine pontiff’s first language is Spanish.

Since being elected as leader of the Catholic Church in 2013, Pope Francis has appeared to adopt a more inclusive stance towards the LGBTQ+ community. 

Early into his papacy 2013, he told journalists: “If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?”

Pope Francis re-iterated this in 2016, saying: “I will repeat what the Catechism of the Church says, that they (LGBTQ+ people) should not be discriminated against, that they should be respected, accompanied pastorally.”

The pontiff also called on the Catholic Church to apologise and seek forgiveness for the way it has treated the LGBTQ+ community. 

Pope Francis also last year approved a document which affirmed that transgender people can be baptised into the Church and serve as godparents, and formally approved allowing priests to bless same-sex couples.

-With additional reporting from © AFP 2024 

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