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Pope Francis has apologized after reports that he used disparaging remarks against homosexuals

The Vatican said Tuesday that Pope Francis “has apologized” after reports that he used a derogatory slang term referring to gay men at a meeting expected to take place. with 250 Italian bishops last week alone.

Francis received questions from bishops at their annual assembly on whether gay men should be openly admitted to seminaries or priesthood colleges. .

According to several people present at the meeting, who spoke anonymously to Italian press agencies, Francis said firmly not, saying that the seminaries had too much “frociaggine,” a term derogatory Italian slang term for gay men.

“Pope Francis is aware of recent articles about a conversation, behind closed doors,” Matteo Bruni, director of the Holy See’s press office, said Tuesday. “The Pope never intended to offend or express himself in homophobic terms, and he apologizes to those offended by the use of a term reported by others .”

The incident was first reported by gossip website Dagospia and was later picked up by mainstream Italian news organizations.

Francis has been widely credited with urging the church to be more welcoming to the LGBTQ community, and he has delivered a message that is almost universally inclusive.

Shortly after the start of his pontificate in 2013, he said: “If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, Who am I to judge?” He also regularly meets with gay rights activists and last year he decided to allow priests to Bless same-sex couples.

Opening up to the LGBTQ community has faced backlash from conservative Catholics. For example, the decision to bless same-sex unions was widely criticized by bishops in conservative areas of the church, such as much in Africathose who say the practice contradicts church teachings.

Vatican fast explain that the blessings were not official ceremonies and did not prejudice the church’s teachings against same-sex marriage.

At the same time, the church remains steadfast in its decision not to allow openly gay men to become priests.

A document issued in 2005 Under Pope Benedict XVI, Francis’ predecessor, most gay men were excluded from the priesthood with few exceptions, except for candidates with strong and specific language. are people who are actively homosexual, have deep-rooted homosexual tendencies or support so-called ‘gay culture’. ”

Document only allows ordination to candidates who have experienced “temporary” homosexual tendencies that have been “clearly overcome” at least three years before ordination to the diaconate, the final step before ordination Priests.

Under Francis, the Vatican Congregation for the Clergy issued a document in 2016 restated the 2005 ban. The document said the church could not ignore “the negative consequences that could result from the ordination of persons with profound homosexual tendencies.”

In one year 2018 interview, published as a bookFrancis emphasized that he is concerned about relationships between gay candidates for the priesthood and other religious offices who take vows of celibacy and chastity and end up living double lives.

In the book, the Pope says: “In consecrated life or priestly life, there is no place for this kind of sentiment.” “For that reason, the Church recommends that people with this ingrained tendency should not be accepted into ministry or consecrated life.”

Francis has expressed these concerns to the Italian bishops. In another closed session in 2018, reported by the Italian pressFrancis said men with “deep-seated” homosexual tendencies should not be allowed to enter the seminary.

“If there are doubts, don’t let them in,” the Pope told the bishops.

Comment that impulse responsewith some radicals warning that it could fuel hostility within the church toward LGBTQ Catholics.

Francis is said to have used the slur last week in response to questions at the Italian bishops’ conference, which recently adopted a document regarding regulations for seminaries. The document has not been published as it is awaiting Vatican approval.

While Francis DeBernardo, director of New Ways Ministries, which advocates for LGBTQ Catholics, welcomed Francis’ apology for using “careless colloquialisms,” he said he was disappointed “because the pope did not specifically clarify what he meant by banning gay men.” from the priesthood.”

Without clarification, “his words will be interpreted as a blanket ban on admitting any gay men into the seminary,” Mr. DeBernardo said. He called on the Holy Father to “issue a clearer statement on his position on gay priests, many of whom faithfully serve the people of God every day.”

An article published by The New York Times in 2019 looked at about two dozen priests and seminarians in the United States who share details about their lives as gay men in the church. Although there are only a handful of priests in the United States who are openly gay, gay priests and researchers estimate that gay men may make up at least 30 to 40 percent of Catholic clergy in USA. Like all Catholic priests, they take a vow of celibacy.

In reporting on the incident, some Italian news agencies suggested that Francis had used the term jokingly or that, as a non-native Italian speaker, he was not aware of the extent the seriousness of that profanity.

Known for his informal, informal style, Francis is no stranger to language mistakes.

Immediately after being elected pope, he told a group of nuns that they should be mothers, “not lonely ladies.” Two years later, speaking to reporters in a meetingflight press conferenceFrancis said that if a friend insulted the pope’s mother, “he would get punched for it! This is normal! It’s normal.” Also in 2015, Referring to contraception, Francis said: “Some people believe that – pardon my language – to be good Catholics we must be like rabbits. Are not. Be a responsible parent.”

And this isn’t his first public apology. Following a video showing Francis twice slapping the hand of a woman who grabbed his hand while he was greeting the faithful in December 2020, he apologized. “Many times we lose patience,” he said during his weekly audience a day after the incident. “Me too, and I’m sorry for yesterday’s bad example.”

In Tuesday’s statement, a Vatican spokesman avoided confirming that the Pope had used the term reported by the Italian press, as the Vatican does not reveal what the Pope said behind closed doors. But the statement said that Francis had “repeatedly declared, ‘In the church there is room for everyone, for everyone! No one is useless, no one is redundant. There’s room for everyone. Everyone is just like us.’”


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