Vatican remains silent as Pope Francis accused of using homophobic slur

Vatican remains silent as Pope Francis accused of using homophobic slur

Pope Francis is reported to have used a deeply offensive slur for gay people during a closed-door discussion with bishops.

The meeting took place at an Italian bishops’ conference, where one of the topics being discussed was whether to allow celibate gay men to undergo training for priesthood at Catholic seminaries.

The 87-year-old pontiff is said to have spoken against the idea, saying that while it was important to embrace everyone, it could risk the queer person leading a double life.

He then reportedly said there was already too much frociaggine in some seminaries, an offensive Italian slur that roughly translates to “f*****ness” or buggery. The closed-door meeting took place in Rome last week, but was first reported on Monday by Italian tabloid news website Dasgopia.

It has since been reported by other outlets, including authoritative Italian dailies La Repubblica and Corriere della Sera and the news agency Adnkronos, which quoted their own unnamed sources among bishops present at the meeting.

Adnkronos published what it described as the “precise words” used by Francis in Italian, which translate to: “Look, there is already an air of f*****ness going around that isn’t good. There is a culture today of homosexuality, because of which those with a homosexual orientation are better off not being welcomed [into the seminary].

“It is very difficult for a boy who has this tendency not to fall [into sin] because they come [to the seminary] thinking that the life of the priest can support them, but then they fall during the work of the ministry.”

The Vatican has not yet commented on the reports, and did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Independent.

One person privy to the incident suggested Francis meant it as a “joke”, saying those around him were surprised and perplexed by the alleged remarks. Corriere della Sera quoted sources saying that those present felt the Pope, whose first language is Spanish, did not realise how offensive the word was.

According to Italian media, during a meeting in November the bishops had decided that gay men could be included in seminaries if they practised celibacy.

But the move was ultimately stopped by Pope Francis, who has been widely praised throughout his time in the Vatican for taking an inclusive tone towards the queer community.

Earlier in December, the Vatican released a document in which Francis formally approved allowing priests to bless same-sex couples, stipulating that people seeking God’s love and mercy shouldn’t be subject to “an exhaustive moral analysis” to receive it.

The document elaborated on a letter Francis sent to two conservative cardinals that was published in October. In that preliminary response, Francis suggested such blessings could be offered under some circumstances if they didn’t confuse the ritual with the sacrament of marriage.

In January 2023, Francis assailed the laws on the books in many countries that criminalise homosexuality and called for their elimination. “Being homosexual isn’t a crime,” Francis said during an interview with the Associated Press.

Another reversal came in late 2023, when the Vatican made public a statement saying it was permissible, under certain circumstances, for transgender people to be baptised as Catholics and serve as godparents.

The document was signed by Francis and Cardinal Víctor Manuel Fernández, who heads the Vatican’s Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith.

If it did not cause scandal or “disorientation” among other Catholics, a transgender person “may receive baptism under the same conditions as other faithful,” the document said.

Similarly, the document said trans adults – even if they had undergone gender-transition surgery – could serve as godfathers or godmothers under certain conditions.

The new pronouncement reversed the absolute bans on trans people serving as godparents issued by the Vatican doctrine office in 2015.