Pope Francis: Apology for using an ‘F’ word!

Pope Francis:  Apology for using an ‘F’ word!

Earlier this week, on 28 May, Pope Francis apologized after being accused of using a highly offensive slur to refer to gay men during a private session with bishops.

Unexpected Words from a Bridge-Builder

The pope’s choice of words, reported by major Italian news outlets and confirmed to The Washington Post by a senior Vatican official, seemed to contradict his efforts to improve relations between the Catholic Church and the LGBTQ+ community. Since his famous “Who am I to judge?” declaration in 2013, Francis has been a pioneer in reaching out to gay Catholics.

However, during a meeting with Italian bishops, the pope was quoted using the word “frociaggine,” which roughly translates to “faggotness” in the Roman Italian dialect.

Reactions from the Community

“The pope must explain himself,” said the Rev. Wolfgang Rothe, an openly gay German Catholic priest. Rothe plans to write a protest letter and request a meeting with Francis in Vatican City. “A pope should not speak in such a manner,” he added.

Vatican’s Response

Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni responded to journalists, carefully navigating the controversy. While not directly confirming the use of the term, Bruni stated, “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 reported by others.”

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He emphasized the pope’s inclusive stance: “In the Church there is room for everyone, for everyone! Nobody is useless, nobody is superfluous, there is room for everyone. Just as we are, all of us.”

A senior Vatican official confirmed that Francis did use the slur during a May 20 meeting with the Italian Episcopal Conference, where he reiterated his opposition to gay men studying for the priesthood.

A Matter of Awareness

It’s possible, the official said, that Francis was not fully aware of the word’s negative connotation. Another Vatican insider suggested the term “frociaggine” is sometimes used by the pope to describe any closed, gossipy cliques, regardless of sexual orientation.

Mixed Reactions from Vatican Watchers

Some view the 87-year-old pope’s use of the term as a verbal misstep typical of elderly relatives. Corriere della Sera noted Francis has occasionally mixed up words, unintentionally referencing mental illness.

However, given his Italian roots, some argue he must understand the word’s meaning. Marco Politi, an author on Francis, commented, “A pope is not to use those words, neither in private nor in public. This incident has a dramatic impact on his prestige.”

Past Incidents of Less Reverent Behavior

Francis has a history of using colorful language and has previously apologized for actions perceived as unbecoming. In 2020, he apologized for slapping a woman’s hand, and in 2016, he called a crowd in Mexico “selfish.”

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Contradictions in the Pope’s Approach

The pope’s latest remarks have jarred those in Catholic LGBTQ+ ministry. Despite his outreach, such as endorsing blessings for same-sex couples and denouncing anti-gay laws, he has also drawn firm lines against admitting gay men into ordained ministry.

Critics, including Francis DeBernardo of New Ways Ministry, expressed disappointment, urging the pope to clarify his stance on banning gay men from the priesthood. “Without a clarification, his words will be interpreted as a blanket ban,” DeBernardo said.

Speculations and Conspiracies

The Italian gossip site Dagospia first reported the pope’s use of the slur, later confirmed by major media outlets. The Global Network of Rainbow Catholics suggested the leak might be an act of sabotage by conservative critics aiming to undermine Francis and his outreach efforts.

“There is definitely mischief afoot to try and undermine Pope Francis,” the group said in a statement.