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Vatican apologizes for Pope Francis' use of homophobic slur

Pope Francis is shown during the Easter Mass in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican on March 31. He apologized for using a homosexual slur during a meeting. File Photo by Stefano Spaziani/UPI
Pope Francis is shown during the Easter Mass in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican on March 31. He apologized for using a homosexual slur during a meeting. File Photo by Stefano Spaziani/UPI | License Photo

May 28 (UPI) -- The Vatican on Tuesday issued an apology on behalf of the Pope following reports that he used a homophobic slur during a meeting with Italian bishops.

Matteo Bruni, director of the Holy See Press Office, said the pope acknowledged the use of the word during a close-door conversation with the Italian Bishops Conference about admitting gay men into the seminary.

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"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, as reported by others," Bruni said, according to the Vatican.

"As he has stated on many occasions, 'There is room for everyone in the church, for everyone," Bruni said. "No one is useless. No one is superfluous. There is room for everyone. Just as we are, everyone.'"

The pope reportedly used the derogatory Italian term during the May 20 meeting where he reiterated his stance that gay men should not be permitted to train as priests in seminaries.

He reportedly said while it was important for the church to embrace everyone, admitting gay priests could lead to them leading a double life.

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Italian media outlets La Repubblica, Corriere della Sera, and news agency Adnkronos reported that those who were present were surprised by Francis' use of the slur.

Unnamed bishops also said they believed the pope used the slur as a "joke" or that Francis, who is originally from Argentina, may not have been aware how offensive the Italian term was.

During his tenure, Francis has presented a more open stance on LGBTQ rights and issues than his predecessors but has held back in some areas.

In December, the Vatican allowed priests to bless same-sex couples as personal blessings but not formal recognition of their marriages.

Francis in February denounced criticisms of the policy as "hypocrisy."

"No one is scandalized if I give a blessing to an entrepreneur who perhaps exploits people, which is a very serious sin," he said. "Whereas they are scandalized if I gave it to a homosexual -- this is hypocrisy."

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