Pope Francis uses derogatory term for gay men; reiterates they cannot become priests or attend seminary

The 87-year-old pontiff reportedly made the homophobic remark in a closed-door meeting last week as he told Italian bishops that gay men shouldn’t be allowed to train for the priesthood. He later had a spokesperson issue a written apology.

CNN reports that the Pope has apologized for his statement. “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 Vatican said in a Tuesday statement.

Francis made the remark in a closed-door meeting with bishops, when describing priesthood colleges and seminaries as already too full of “frociaggine” – a highly offensive Italian slur. SkyNews/Reuters

He is said to have reiterated that gay men should not be allowed to become priests.

According to a number of Bishops present, his use of the term was surprising since he has been more accepting in speeches of LGBTQ Catholics during his tenure. Some posited that he was unaware of how offensive the word is; some noted his native tongue is Spanish, born in Argentina, so that may have contributed. However 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,’” Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said in a statement. ( NBC )

In a 2005 document, during Benedict XVI’s papacy, the Vatican said the church could admit into the priesthood those who had overcome gay tendencies for at least three years. The document said those with “deep-seated” gay tendencies and those who “support the so-called gay culture” should be barred.

At the start of his papacy in 2013, he said: “If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge?” Last year, he allowed priests to bless same-sex couples, triggering significant conservative backlash. But in 2018, he told Italian bishops to carefully vet priesthood applicants and reject anyone suspected of being gay.