Pope Francis uses homophobic slur for gay men for 2nd time in just weeks, Italian news agency says

Rome — Just weeks after apologizing for using a homophobic slur, Pope Francis used the same word again during a closed-door meeting on Tuesday, according to Italian news agency ANSA.

ANSA, citing unnamed sources at the meeting, reports the pope used the offensive term during a discussion with nearly 200 Roman priests at Rome’s Salesian Pontifical University. 

Francis, 87, had used the same derogatory language for gay men once before, during a meeting with Italian bishops on May 20. At issue then was whether gay men should be allowed to enter the seminary. 

Eight days later, the Director of the Holy See Press Office, Matteo Bruni, issued a rare apology, s­aying the pope had “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.”

Vatican Pope
Pope Francis delivers his speech during his weekly general audience in St. Peter’s Square, at the Vatican, June 12, 2024.

Alessandra Tarantino/AP

On Tuesday, Bruni issued a statement summarizing the pope’s comments at the meeting with the Roman priests, saying he’d spoken on topics ranging from Ukraine and the war in Gaza to artificial intelligence

Bruni said the pontiff “reiterated the need to welcome and accompany in the church those with homosexual tendencies,” but that the pope had also urged prudence in admitting gays into the seminary. Bruni’s statement made no mention of the pope’s purported use of the offensive remark.

In both of the relevant meetings, Francis was clear in his stance that gay men should not be ordained. Although Francis has been credited with welcoming members of the LBGTQ community into the church during his 11 year papacy, he has not been welcoming of gay priests. 

In 2005, the Vatican released a document stating that the church cannot “admit to the seminary or to holy orders those who practice homosexuality, present deep-seated homosexual tendencies or support the so-called ‘gay culture.'”

In 2016, Pope Francis upheld that position.

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