Pope issues apology for use of homophobic slur following backlash

The Vatican said the Pope never meant to offend, but an LGBTQ+ Catholic rights group said the comment demonstrates the depth of bias and discrimination that exists in the Church.

Photo of Pope Francis sitting with sad expression, he recently issued an apology for using an homophobic slur

Pope Francis has issued an apology following reports that he used an extremely derogatory and homophobic Italian slur when talking about gay men entering the priesthood.

On Monday, May 20, Pope Francis reportedly used a homophobic slur while suggesting that gay men should not be allowed to train for the priesthood. He allegedly said that there is too much “frociaggine (f**gotry)” in the Church.

The word was used during a private meeting, but news of the discussion was widely reported by a number of Italian news agencies.

Following the backlash that such comment sparked, the Vatican said: “Pope Francis is aware of the articles that have come out recently concerning a conversation he had with bishops… behind closed doors.”

The statement, which quoted the director of the Holy See Press Office of the Roman Curia, Matteo Bruni, added: “The Pope never meant to offend or to use homophobic language, and apologises to everyone who felt offended [or] hurt by the use of a word.”


The slur was upsetting to many Catholics who believe they had seen a positive change in the Church’s attitude toward the LGBTQ+ community since Pope Francis was appointed in 2013.

In public, Pope Francis has spoken respectfully toward the LGBTQ+ community. Shortly after his appointment, Pope Francis made headlines by responding, “Who am I to judge?” when asked about his view on queer people in the church.

Pope Francis recently described laws criminalising LGBTQ+ people as an “injustice”, and in 2023, he confirmed that transgender Catholics could be baptised and act as godparents and marriage witnesses under the same conditions as their cisgender counterparts.

President of LGBTQ+ charity GLAAD, Sarah Kate Ellis, has previously applauded Pope Francis for breaking down barriers and creating welcoming spaces for LGBTQ Catholics. However, Marianne Duddy-Burke, Head of the LGBT Catholic rights group DignityUSA, called the recent comments “shocking and hurtful”.

Duddy-Burke told Reuters: “Unfortunately, even if intended as a joke, the Pope’s comment reveals the depth of anti-gay bias and institutional discrimination that still exist in our church.”

Prior to this hurtful use of homophobic language and the following apology, many believed that Pope Francis was laying the groundwork to allow gay men to train for the priesthood.

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