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Pope Francis apologizes for using slur referring to gay men

Pope Francis leaves a mass on World Children's Day at St Peter's Basilica in the Vatican on May 26.
Filippo Monteforte
AFP via Getty Images
Pope Francis leaves a mass on World Children's Day at St Peter's Basilica in the Vatican on May 26.

Pope Francis has issued an apology for using a derogatory term referring to gay men during a closed-door discussion among bishops earlier this month.

“The Pope never intended to offend or express himself in homophobic terms,” director of the Vatican press office Matteo Bruni said, “and he apologies to those who felt offended by the use of the term.”

During the meeting with Italian bishops at the Vatican last week, there was discussion of whether to admit gay men to Catholic seminaries in preparation for the priesthood.

Italian media reported that multiple people present at the meeting disclosed that Francis opposed the idea, saying there was already too much “frociaggine” in seminaries. Frociaggine is a highly offensive slang term in Italian referring to gay men and gay male culture.

The controversy is the latest in a series of moves that many LGBTQ Catholics view as sending mixed messages. Earlier this year, the Vatican issued a document titled "Infinite Dignity" referring to what it called “sex change” and “gender theory” as grave threats.

But late last year, Pope Francis issued guidance that allowed priests to bless people in same-sex relationships, although not to bless the relationship itself.

The Catholic Church’s official teaching on the matter is that homosexuality is intrinsically disordered and that sexual activity between people of the same sex is a grave sin.

Still, Bruni said on Tuesday, “As [Francis] has stated on many occasions, 'There is room for everyone in the Church.’ ”

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Jason DeRose is the Western Bureau Chief for NPR News, based at NPR West in Culver City. He edits news coverage from Member station reporters and freelancers in California, Washington, Oregon, Nevada, Alaska and Hawaii. DeRose also edits coverage of religion and LGBTQ issues for the National Desk.