Pope Francis uses a controversial word – again.

Pope Francis

There was a Vatican apology after Pope Francis used what has been described widely as a gay slur a couple of weeks ago, but the Pontiff has now gone and used the same word again.

A Crux story gave the fullest account: “The Italian news service ANSA reported that on Tuesday, during a meeting with priests in the Pontifical Salesian University in Rome, Francis said “In Vaticano c’è aria di frociaggine” – meaning “In the Vatican, there is an air of faggotry.”

Why the Pope uses this word is explained in the independent Catholic paper National Catholic Reporter (NCR) – it is not intended as an insult, although gay Italians take it that way. “We do not have a transcript of what the pope said to the Italian bishops and, especially, what question prompted him to say what he did,” NCR’s Michael Sean Winters wrote after the word first hit the headlines. “There have been instances of seminaries with a gay subculture that was destructive of the formation the seminary existed to impart. The fact that the pope may have used a vulgar Italian word, frociaggine — translated as “queerness” in most media accounts, but I suspect “campiness” is closer to what was meant — when discussing the subject suggests he might have had in mind precisely such a situation.”

The media coverage concentrated on frociaggine rather than the larger point the Pope made, which was more controversial. Francis was suggesting – and a Pope does more than suggest – that gay men be kept out of seminaries to prevent that sort of culture.

That goes against the caricature of Pope francis as determined to liberalise the church. But fits with his distinction between giving a gay couple a blessing but not saying gay sex is licit. It pays to read the actual papal statements. For example,  Fiducia Supplicans the statement that led to the gay blessings controversy says “… it is necessary that what is blessed corresponds with God’s designs written in creation and fully revealed by Christ the Lord. For this reason, since the Church has always considered only those sexual relations that are lived out within marriage to be morally licit, the Church does not have the power to confer its liturgical blessing when that would somehow offer a form of moral legitimacy to a union that presumes to be a marriage or to an extra-marital sexual practice.”

Blessing a same-sex couple, then, does not imply endorsing the whole of the relationship. this may not make sense in an evangelical mind, but this Pope dwells in nuance. In the case of seminarians (trainee priests), Francis is not imposing a ban on gay priests but on a campy culture.

Crux again: “Bishop Francesco Savino of Cassano all’Jonio, vice president of Italy’s bishops’ conference, told Il Corriere della Sera the pope did not oppose gay priests and was ‘misunderstood’ about his words in May.

“’The pope’s true concern is the serenity of all. The pope wanted to say that the candidates, whether gay or straight, should be capable of living well their promises with respect to obedience, poverty and chastity; to love with a full heart and empty hands,’ the bishop said.”


  1. The bible says NO Homosexuals…If you do not like this start your Own religion.

  2. My understanding is that we are commanded to love everyone. That includes homosexuals but thé Bible clearly says homosexuality is a sin. We have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God so we are all in need of forgiveness. Just because someone is a sinner does not mean we should not love them BUT no matter what the sin is we should ourselves seek forgiveness and encourage others to do the same. The problem arises when homosexuality is claimed as a right not recognised as a sin.

Comments are closed.