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Pope Francis apologizes for saying that gay priests create “f-ggotry” in seminaries

Pope Francis in a chair
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Pope Francis on Tuesday apologized for a poor word choice regarding gay priests that elicited “incredulous laughter” from a group of bishops, according to two Italian newspapers.

“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 statement released today.

“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.’”

The 87-year-old pontiff made the remark in a closed-door meeting with Italian bishops on May 20, according to sources who shared the exchange with the Corriere della Sera and La Repubblica newspapers.

In a discussion about amending guidelines on candidates to seminaries, they said, the Pope asserted that gay men shouldn’t be allowed to train for the priesthood, saying there is “frociaggine” in some of the seminaries.

“Frociaggine” translates to “faggotry” in English.

A source close to the Pope told CNN that the term could also be understood to mean there is a “gay climate” in the seminaries under discussion.

In their reporting, Corriere della Sera posited that the Argentine pope, who speaks Italian as a second language, may not have been aware that the word he used had an offensive connotation. The bishops greeted the remark with incredulous laughter, according to the two Italian papers.

There is no official transcript of the closed-door gathering.

The Vatican ruled in 2005 that the Catholic Church would continue to prohibit the ordination of sexually active gay men or men who have “deep-seated” homosexual tendencies. Francis upheld the ruling in 2016.

Two years later the Pope told Italian bishops not to accept gay candidates for the priesthood.

Despite those rulings, Francis has made welcoming LGBTQ+ believers an integral part of his papacy, famously asking, “Who am I to judge?” when questioned about gay priests.

In December, the Pope approved blessing same-sex couples, and he has publicly welcomed trans faithful to the Vatican. He’s also disciplined conservative church officials unhappy with his LGBTQ+ outreach.

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