Pope apologizes for using offensive term for gay men

He reportedly affirmed the ban on allowing gay men to prepare for the priesthood.

Pope Francis is apologizing after reports he used an offensive term for gay men in a recent closed-door meeting.

“Pope Francis is aware of articles that have recently appeared about a conversation, behind closed doors, with the bishops of the (Italian Episcopal Conference),” the Vatican press office said in a statement from the director of the Press Office. of the Holy See, Matteo Bruni.

Italian media attributed the use of the term to unidentified bishops who supposedly listened to Pope Francis’ speech at a meeting of the Italian Episcopal Conference. They claim in reports that Pope Francis used the term while reinforcing the Church’s long-standing instruction against allowing gay men to enter the seminary to prepare for the priesthood.

“The Pope never intended to offend or express himself in homophobic terms, and extends his apologies to those who were offended by the use of a term, reported by others,” the Vatican statement continued. “As he has had the opportunity to affirm on several occasions: ‘In the Church there is room for everyone, for everyone! Nobody is useless, nobody is superfluous, there is room for everyone. Just like us, all of us.’ “

In 2023, Pope Francis summoned a crowd of hundreds of thousands of people at World Youth Day to shout to him that the Catholic Church is for “everyone, everyone, everyone”: everyone, everyone, everyone. He was later asked how he could reconcile his “everyone” message with the fact that LGBTQ+ people are excluded from the sacraments. The Pope responded that the Church has laws, but it is still a place for everyone.

The Pope’s use of the insult surprised many. Throughout his papacy, Francis has introduced an openness regarding the LGBTQ community, although he has maintained the church’s position on doctrinal issues.

When a journalist asked Francis about gay priests while returning from the first foreign trip of his papacy in 2013, the Pope surprised people with his response: “If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, Who am I to judge?” ?”

Pope Francis also criticized laws that criminalize homosexuality and formally approved allowing Catholic priests to bless same-sex couples, a significant change in Vatican guidance.

Pope Francis, whose native language is Spanish and not Italian, at times during his papacy made up words or used inappropriate slang or phraseology during his remarks, often while speaking spontaneously.

ABC News’ Melissa Gaffney and Inés de la Cuetara contributed to this report.