May 28, 2024 - World

Pope Francis apologizes after reports he used homophobic slur

Pope Francis in Rome on May 25.

Pope Francis in Rome on May 25. Photo: Stefano Costantino/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Pope Francis apologized on Tuesday after reports surfaced that he used a derogatory term to refer to gay men during a recent closed-door meeting.

Why it matters: Italian media on Monday quoted unnamed bishops who said Francis used the term while answering whether openly gay men should be allowed to enter seminaries and be ordained priests, per AP.

  • He reportedly said no, and used an offensive Italian slang term referring to gay men while answering the question, according to the New York Times.

What they're saying: Matteo Bruni, the press office director for the Holy See, said in a statement Tuesday that Francis was "aware" of the media reports but maintained that the pope did not mean offend anyone.

  • "The Pope never intended to offend or express himself in homophobic terms, and he apologizes to those who felt offended by the use of a term, as reported by others," Bruni said.
  • "As he has stated on many occasions, 'There is room for everyone in the Church, for everyone! No one is useless; no one is superfluous; there is room for everyone. Just as we are, everyone.'"

The big picture: The pope has attempted to make the church more welcoming to LGBTQ+ people while at the same time upholding its historical views on the sacrament of marriage.

Yes, but: The pope also called same-sex marriages sinful and the church's fundamental doctrine around such marriages hasn't changed.

  • The balancing act has in part produced a doctrine that stresses that gay people be treated with dignity and respect but also denounces gay sex as being "intrinsically disordered."

Zoom out: While Francis has been credited with attempting to make the church more inclusive to LGBTQ+ people, the effort has been criticized by traditionalist and more conservative Catholic leaders.

Go deeper: The world's departure from organized religion

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