Pope Francis Uses Anti-Gay Slur—Again

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Oops. He did it again.

Weeks after apologizing for using an Italian word which roughly translates to “f-ggotry,” Pope Francis reportedly used the same term again in a closed-door meeting with Roman priests on Tuesday—right in the middle of Pride Month.

“There is an air of [the slur] in the Vatican,” the head of the Catholic Church said, according to Italian news agency Agenzia Nazionale Stampa Associata (ANSA), which cited sources present at the meeting at Salesian Pontifical University in Rome. Francis had used the controversial term during a closed-door discussion with Italian bishops last month, during which he also repeated his stance against the Church permitting openly gay men to become priests.

The Vatican Press Office issued a news bulletin summarizing the latest hour-and-a-half meeting with around 160 priests. According to the bulletin and ANSA’s reporting, the 87-year-old pontiff spoke with the group about a range of topics, including the wars in Ukraine and Gaza as well as artificial intelligence. He ended the discussion by returning to the topic of admitting men with “homosexual tendencies” into seminaries—emphasizing that “everyone” should be welcomed into the Church, while at the same time reiterating the Church’s official opposition to gay men entering the priesthood.

Francis’ use of a homophobic slur, which local Italian media outlets said last month may have been a misunderstanding based on the fact that his native language is Spanish, highlights his “complicated” legacy on LGBTQ issues. While he is regarded to have ushered in a new era of acceptance and inclusion, including by allowing same-sex couples to be blessed by priests, he has steadfastly resisted approving of gay clergymen or same-sex marriage.

Vatican Press Office director Matteo Bruni issued a statement in late May after Francis’ first use of the derogatory word that said the Pope “never intended to offend or express himself in homophobic terms” and “apologizes to those who felt offended.”

Many observers, however, have responded less by taking offense and more by making humor of the situation. The Pope’s seeming inability to stop himself from using the word has particularly tickled the internet.

But while Francis’ allies insist his recent comments are simply gaffes and aren’t reflective of his true colors, others over the years have cited his record to claim: he’s not that innocent.

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