Pope Francis Again Uses Term With Homophobic Connotations

Pope Francis meets some 160 priests who have been ordained for between11 and 39 years at the Salesian Pontifical University on June 11, 2024 in Rome, Italy.

Pope Francis, the head of the Catholic Church, has reportedly used a homophobic slur again. This time, he reportedly used the Italian word “frogaccine,” which translates roughly to “faggotry,” during a closed-door meeting with Roman priests on Tuesday, June 11, 2024—right in the middle of Pride Month.

“There is an air of frogaccine in the Vatican,” the Pope is reported to have said, according to the Italian news agency ANSA, which cited sources present at the meeting at Salesian Pontifical University in Rome. This incident comes just weeks after Francis used the same term during a private conversation with Italian bishops in May. During that meeting, he also repeated his stance against allowing openly gay men to become priests.

The Vatican Press Office issued a 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 discussed various 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 reiterating the Church’s official opposition to gay men entering the priesthood.

Francis’ repeated use of the homophobic slur, which Italian media outlets reported last month may have been a misunderstanding due to his native Spanish language, highlights his “mixed” legacy on LGBTQ issues. While he is credited with ushering in a new era of acceptance and inclusion, including by allowing same-sex couples to be blessed by priests, he has consistently 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 “frogaccine,” stating that the Pope “never intended to offend or express himself in homophobic terms” and “apologizes to those who felt offended.”

However, many observers have responded less by taking offense and more by expressing disappointment. The Pope’s seemingly casual use of the slur, particularly during Pride Month, has been met with particular dismay.

While Francis’ allies insist his recent comments were unintentional, others over the years have pointed to a pattern of behavior that suggests he’s not that innocent.