Pope allegedly used derogatory term for gay people

Pope Francis delivers a service. He is wearing a red robe.
[Reuters]

Pope Francis is reported to have used extremely derogatory language in an incident that could have a profound impact on the way his attitude towards gay people is perceived.

When asked at the Italian Bishops’ Conference if gay men should now be allowed to train for the priesthood as long as they remained celibate, Pope Francis said they should not.

He is then believed to have continued by saying in Italian that there was, in the Church, already too much of an air of frociaggine, which translates as a highly offensive slur.

Although it was a meeting that happened behind closed doors, the Pope’s reported comments were first conveyed to the Italian investigative website, Dagospia.

Other Italian news agencies have since confirmed the Pope’s words citing numerous sources.

There has been shock at the Pope’s reported language at this private meeting, particularly as he has often talked publicly of being respectful towards gay people.

Progressive supporters of the Pope have long argued that while little has tangibly changed in terms of gay rights in Catholicism, Pope Francis 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.

Some had started to feel that he was laying the groundwork to ultimately permit gay men to train for the priesthood, as long as they remained celibate like other priests.

He not only shot that down in no uncertain terms at the conference, but some news agencies report that he used derogatory language on more than one occasion

The Spanish-speaking Pope’s defenders point out that he does sometimes make mistakes in Italian colloquialisms and suggest that he did not appreciate the level offence he might have caused, even though he did grow up in an Italian-speaking household in Argentina.

Nevertheless, some outlets report that the Pope also said that gay people needed kicking out of seminaries whether they acted on their sexual tendencies or not.

The Vatican has yet to comment on the matter.