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Pope Francis allegedly repeats gay slur, opposes gay men in priesthood

ROME — Pope Francis on Tuesday reiterated his opposition to gay priests, reportedly repeating a highly derogatory insult during a meeting with clerics, just two weeks after the Vatican apologized, amid reports he used the same word during a previous meeting with bishops.

Francis reportedly repeated the insult during a meeting with 200 priests at the Pontifical Salesian University in Rome, according to major Italian media. The Vatican, in a statement, did not mention the use of the derogatory word but said the pontiff had spoken of the “danger of ideologies in the Church.”

The Vatican said the pope “reiterated the need to welcome and accompany homosexual men in the Church” but called for caution over their access to the priesthood.

The 87-year-old pontiff has already made historic statements in support of same-sex civil unions, led LGBTQ+ awareness efforts and last year approved short blessings for same-sex couples by Catholic priests. But Francis, who said: “Who am I to judge? When asked about gay priests shortly after becoming pope in 2013, he also expressed caution about admitting gay men into seminaries. He essentially supported a 2005 Vatican decision that “homosexual candidates cannot become priests because their sexual orientation distances them from the proper meaning of fatherhood.”

Major Italian media outlets – including Corriere della Sera, La Repubblica and ANSA – reported that the pope, during Tuesday’s meeting, also repeated the word “frociaggine”, which in the Roman Italian dialect translates approximately by “faggot”.


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Two weeks ago, a senior Vatican official confirmed to the Washington Post that the pope used the same word during another meeting with bishops on May 20. Eight days after this meeting, and following reports that the pope had used the insult in the Italian press, the Vatican issued a rare apology. Without confirming that the pope had used the word, the Vatican later said that “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”.

A Vatican spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the pope’s alleged use of the word.

Citing sources present at the meeting, Corriere della Sera also quoted the pope as saying that “homosexuals are good guys (and) have beautiful paths of faith.” But if they are seeking the priesthood, they should instead be directed to a spiritual guide or “to a psychologist.” If they became priests, according to the media quoting the pope, homosexual men would be likely to “fail in the exercise of their ministry”.

Francis is known for speaking in a much more colloquial manner than previous popes, and observers have argued that the pope may not realize that the slur he used is considered offensive. Although born and raised in Argentina, he comes from an Italian family and has spoken the language since a young age.

Some theologians said the insult was less important than the pope’s obvious stance against gay men becoming priests.

Andrea Grillo, a professor of sacramental theology at the Anselmianum, a pontifical university in Rome, said that “we should focus on his underlying assumption that homosexuals should not become priests, which is the real problem here.” .

“The pope seems convinced of the truth of outdated theories that a homosexual will not be able to remain chaste and therefore cannot be ordained,” Grillo said. “This theory is unfounded, but I have the feeling (Francis still) that she believes it to be true.”

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