Pope Francis allegedly used a homophobic slur to describe gay men during a closed-door meeting with bishops in Rome, several Italian newspapers reported. The pontiff reportedly used the highly derogatory term while reiterating that gay people should not be allowed to become priests. 

According to two prominent Italian newspapers ‘La Repubblica’ and ‘Corriere della Sera’, the 87-year-old Pope said seminaries were already too full of “frociaggine”, a vulgar Italian term roughly translating as “faggotness”. 

The incident is said to have happened on May 20, when the Italian Bishops Conference (CIE) opened a four-day assembly with a non-public meeting with the pontiff. The discussion centred on the amendment of guidelines to accept candidates to seminaries, a topic the CIE is said to have been deliberating for some time. On whether gay men should be admitted to Catholic seminaries, the Pontiff is said to have reiterated his vehement opposition to the idea. 

Stating that while it was important to embrace everyone, he said “it was likely that a gay person could risk leading a double life.” He is then alleged to have added that there was already too much “frociaggine” in some seminaries.

Though the report first appeared in the political gossip website ‘Dagospia’, major dailies ‘La Repubblica’ and ‘Corriere della Sera’, and news agency ‘Adnkronos’ followed them up. The reports quoted unnamed Bishops.

The source mentioned in ‘Corriere’ said the Pope, being an Argentine, might not have realised that the Italian term he used was offensive. However, the slur left those around the Pope surprised and perplexed.

Since he took over as Pope, he has sought to adopt a favourable approach towards the LGBTQ+ community. In 2013, at the start of his papacy, he famously said, “If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge?”. 

Last year, he allowed priests to bless unmarried and same-sex couples couples, marking a significant change in the position of the Catholic church. However, the Pope has also been clear about not allowing gay people to join the clergy. In a 2018 interview, he said he aired his views on homosexuality, stating he was “concerned”.

“In our societies, it even seems that homosexuality is fashionable and that mentality, in some way, also influences the life of the church,” he said.

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