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21 Jun, 2024
Pope Francis allegedly repeats gay slurs and opposes gays in the priesthood
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Pope Francis allegedly repeats gay slurs and opposes gays in the priesthood

ROME – Pope Francis on Tuesday reaffirmed his opposition to gay priests, allegedly repeating a highly pejorative slur during a meeting with clerics just two weeks after the Vatican apologized following reports that he used the same word during an earlier meeting with bishops.

According to major Italian media, Francis repeated the insult during a meeting with 200 priests at the Salesian Pontifical University in Rome. The Vatican’s statement did not mention the use of the offensive word, but said the pope spoke about “the danger of ideology in the Church.”

The Vatican said the pope “reiterated the need to welcome and accompany homosexuals in the Church” but urged caution regarding their entry into the priesthood.

The 87-year-old pope has previously made landmark statements in support of same-sex civil unions, campaigned on LGBTQ+ issues and last year approved brief blessings for same-sex couples from Catholic priests. But Francis – who became famous for saying, “Who am I to judge?” asked about gay priests shortly after he became pope in 2013 — also expressed caution about admitting gay men to seminaries. He essentially supported the Vatican’s 2005 ruling that “gay candidates cannot become priests because their sexual orientation distances them from a proper sense 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 roughly translates as “faggot” in the Roman-Italian dialect.

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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 that meeting and after reports that the pope had used the slur in the Italian press, the Vatican issued a rare apology. Without confirming that the pope had used the word, the Vatican then said that “the pope never intended to offend or express himself in a homophobic manner and apologizes to those who were offended by the use of the term given by others.”

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

Citing sources present at the meeting, Corriere della Sera also quoted the pope as saying that “homosexuals are good people (and) have nice paths of faith.” However, if they were seeking priesthood, they should be referred to a spiritual guide or “some psychologist.” The newspaper quoted the pope as saying that if they became priests, homosexuals would likely “fail in their ministry.”

Francis is known to have spoken much more colloquially than past popes, and observers have argued that the pope may not realize that the insults he used are considered offensive. Although he was born and raised in Argentina, he comes from an Italian family and has been fluent in this language from an early age.

Some theologians argued that the slur was less important than the pope’s obvious stance against homosexuals becoming priests.

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

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