Italian media says Pope used homophobic slur in meeting with bishops

Pope Francis allegedly used the derogatory term when discussing whether gay men should be allowed to join the priesthood.

The Pope leaving an event. He's dressed in white robes with a silver cross around his neck
Pope Francis pictured leaving a mass at St Peter's Basilica on Sunday [Filippo Monteforte/AFP]

Pope Francis used a homophobic slur during a meeting with Italian bishops, as he reiterated that gay men should not be allowed to become priests, according to Italian media.

The La Repubblica and Corriere della Sera newspapers reported on Monday that the 87-year-old Pope made the derogatory remark in a private meeting a week ago when he was asked whether gay men should be allowed to train for the priesthood provided they remained celibate.

Pope Francis said they should not and joked that there were “already too many “‘frociaggine'” in some seminaries. In English, the term roughly translates to f****.

Corriere della Sera reported that some of those present felt that the Pope, whose first language is Spanish, did not realise how offensive the word was.

The political gossip website Dagospia was the first to report on the alleged incident, said to have happened on May 20, when the Italian Bishops Conference opened its four-day assembly.

The Vatican has not commented on the alleged remarks.

Since becoming pope in 2013, Francis has insisted that the Catholic Church should be open to all, including the LGBTQ community.

Last year, he criticised laws that criminalised homosexuality and later said that priests could conduct blessings for same-sex couples under certain conditions.

Some 67 countries or jurisdictions worldwide criminalise consensual same-sex sexual activity, 11 of which can or do impose the death penalty, according to The Human Dignity Trust, which works to end such laws. Experts say that even where the legislation is not enforced, it contributes to harassment, stigmatisation and violence against LGBTQ people.

Official doctrine in the Catholic Church still states same-sex acts are “intrinsically disordered”.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies