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Pope Francis Apologises Over Reported Homophobic Slur

Pope Francis has apologised following reports that he used extremely derogatory language towards gay men.

A statement from the Vatican said the Pope did not mean to offend anyone and apologised to those who were “hurt by the use of a word”.

At the Italian Bishops’ Conference, the pope reportedly said gay men should not be allowed to train for the priesthood, adding there was already an air of frociaggine, which translates as a highly offensive slur.

This meeting was in private but has been widely reported.

“Pope Francis is aware of the articles that have come out recently concerning a conversation he had with bishops… behind closed doors,” the statement quoted the director of the Holy See – the Catholic Church’s governing body – Matteo Bruni, as saying.

The Pope’s reported comments were first conveyed to the Italian tabloid website Dagospia, and were soon confirmed by other Italian news agencies.

There has been shock at the reported language, particularly as Pope Francis has often talked publicly about being respectful towards gay people.

Mr Bruni said: “As he [the Pope] has stated on more than one occasion, ‘In the Church there is room for everyone, everyone! Nobody is useless or superfluous, there is room for everyone, just the way we are.’”

“The Pope never meant to offend or to use homophobic language, and apologises to everyone who felt offended [or] hurt by the use of a word,” Mr Bruni concluded in the Vatican statement.

Progressive supporters of the Pope have long argued that while little has tangibly changed in terms of gay rights in Catholicism, he has changed the tone of the Church’s attitude.

When asked about gay people early in his papacy, he hit the headlines by responding, “Who am I to judge?”

He recently created consternation among Catholic traditionalists by saying priests should be able to bless same-sex couples in some circumstances and has frequently talked of gay people being welcome in the Church.

Spanish-speaking defenders of the Pope pointed out that he sometimes makes mistakes in Italian colloquialisms, and suggested that he did not appreciate the level of offence he might have caused, even though he did grow up in an Italian-speaking household in Argentina.

But the head of the LGBT Catholic rights group DignityUSA, Marianne Duddy-Burke, called the reported comments “shocking and hurtful”, especially to gay priests who have served “God’s people faithfully and well”.

“Unfortunately, even if intended as a joke, the Pope’s comment reveals the depth of anti-gay bias and institutional discrimination that still exist in our church,” she told Reuters news agency.

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