Tuesday, June 25, 2024
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Pope Francis apologizes over use of gay slur, Vatican says

WARNING: This story contains vulgar language.

Pope Francis, widely quoted as having used a highly derogatory word to describe the 2SLGBTQ+ community, did not intend to use homophobic language and apologizes to anyone offended by it, the Vatican said on Tuesday.

It is extremely rare for a pope to issue a public apology.

“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,” Vatican spokesperson Matteo Bruni said in an emailed statement.

Italian media had reported on Monday that Francis used the Italian term frociaggine, roughly translating as “faggotness” or “faggotry,” as he told Italian bishops he remained opposed to admitting gay people into the priesthood.

Italian political gossip website Dagospia was the first to report the alleged incident, said to have happened on May 20, when the pontiff met Italian bishops behind closed doors.

Bruni said Francis was “aware” of the reports. The Vatican spokesperson reiterated that the Pope remained committed to a welcoming church for all, where “nobody is useless, nobody is superfluous, [where] there is room for everyone.”

His reported comments caused shock and consternation, even among his supporters.

Vito Mancuso, an Italian theologian and former priest, told the daily La Stampa that Francis’s language was “despicable and surprising because it blatantly jars” with his previous messages on LGBTQ issues.

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Andrea Rubera, the spokesperson for the Italian Christian LGBTQ+ association Paths of Hope, says while he knows community members are disappointed over Pope Francis’s use of a homophobic slur, he firmly believes the incident should not drive a wedge between them and the church.

Francis, 87, has been credited with making substantial overtures toward the 2SLGBTQ+ community during his 11-year papacy.

In 2013, at the start of his papacy, he famously said: “If a person is gay and seeks God and has goodwill, who am I to judge?” Last year, he allowed priests to bless members of same-sex couples, triggering substantial conservative backlash.

Back in 2018, Francis admitted making “grave mistakes” in the handling of a sexual abuse crisis in Chile, where he initially dismissed as slander accusations against a bishop suspected of protecting a predator priest.

“I apologize to all those I have offended and I hope to be able to do it personally in the coming weeks, in the meetings I will have [with victims],” he wrote in a letter to Chilean bishops.