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Pope Francis allegedly used derogatory Italian term towards LGBT community: Reports

The 87-year-old Pope Francis used the term 'frociaggine', a vulgar Italian term roughly translated as "faggotness" while reiterating that gay people should not be allowed to become priests. Francis has been a leading voice in the Roman Catholic Church for a welcoming approach to the LGBT community.

Edited By: Aveek Banerjee @AveekABanerjee Vatican City Published on: May 28, 2024 12:10 IST
Pope Francis
Image Source : REUTERS Pope Francis

Vatican City: Pope Francis used a highly derogatory term to refer to members of the LGBT community as he reiterated in a closed-door meeting with Italian bishops that gay people should not be allowed to become priests, according to multiple reports in the Italian media. The surprising comments come as the 87-year-old Pope is one of the leading voices towards a more welcoming approach towards the LGBT community.

The Pope was quoted as saying by two of Italy's largest newspapers that seminaries, or priesthood colleges, are already too full of "frociaggine", a vulgar Italian term roughly translating as "faggotness". La Repubblica attributed its story to several unspecified sources, while Corriere della Sera newspaper said it was backed up by a few, unnamed bishops who suggested that the Pope might not have realised that the Italian remark he used was offensive.

The alleged incident happened on May 20, when the Italian Bishops Conference opened a four-day assembly with a non-public meeting with the pontiff. Pope Francis has so far been credited with leading the Roman Catholic Church into taking a more welcoming approach towards the LGBT community. However, he delivered a similar message in 2018 when he told bishops to carefully vet priesthood applicants and reject suspected homosexuals.

Pope Francis on LGBT 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?", while last year he allowed priests to bless members of same-sex couples, triggering substantial conservative backlash. His approval to Catholic priests blessing same-sex couples was heralded by some as a step towards breaking down discrimination in the Catholic Church.

However, the Pope maintained its strict ban on gay marriage. The new document repeats that condition and elaborates on it, reaffirming that marriage is a lifelong union between a man and a woman. The Vatican holds that marriage is an indissoluble union between man and woman. As a result, it has long opposed same-sex marriage and considers homosexual acts to be “intrinsically disordered.”

The move by Francis angered traditionalists, with blogger Luigi Casalini of Messa writing in Latino (Latin Mass) blog that the document appeared to be a form of heresy. University of Notre Dame theologian Ulrich Lehner was also concerned, saying it would merely sow confusion and could lead to division in the church. However, Francis has distinguished himself from all his predecessors with his message of welcome towards the community.

Pope Francis defended the landmark decision approving blessings for same-sex couples suggesting that those in the Catholic Church who have resisted it have jumped to "ugly conclusions" because they do not understand it. "The danger is that if I don't like something and I put it (the opposition) in my heart, I become a resistance and jump to ugly conclusions," he said during a link from his Vatican residence with the "Che Tempo Che Fa" program on Italy's Channel 9.

Francis said that those who do not like decisions such as the one on same-sex blessings should make their doubts known and engage in "fraternal discussions". In a 2005 document, released under Francis's late predecessor Benedict XVI, the Vatican said the Church could admit into the priesthood those who had clearly overcome homosexual tendencies for at least three years.

(with inputs from Reuters)

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