Pope Francis’ remarks about gay seminarians ‘taken out of context and used to divide,’ Italian bishop says

By Gerard O’Connell, 4 June 2024
Pope Francis during the weekly General Audience in the Paul VI Audience Hall in the Vatican, 18 January 2023. Image: Vatican Media/Vatican News


Pope Francis’ remarks to the Italian bishops’ conference regarding homosexuals and entry to the seminary were “taken out of context and used to divide” by whoever leaked them to the press, the vice president of the conference told the leading Italian daily, Il Corriere della Sera, on May 29.

“The pope is not homophobic and never was,” Bishop Francesco Savino of the southern Italian Diocese of Cassano all’Jonio, 69, said. He denied that, in his conversation with the Italian bishops on May 20, Pope Francis gave a categorical “no” to the entry of homosexuals to the seminary. “There is not an a priori no” to them, he said. “His true concern is the serenity of all. The pope wanted to say that the candidates [for the priesthood and entry to the seminary], whether homo[sexual] or hetero[sexual], should be capable of living well their promises with respect to obedience, poverty and chastity; to love with a full heart and empty hands.”

Bishop Savino said he does not know which of the more than 200 bishops at the plenary assembly on May 20 leaked the pope’s words to the press. He slammed this grave breach of confidentiality. But, he said, “whoever it was will have to come to terms with his conscience and with the sense of collegiality with the other bishops.”

Though Bishop Savino did not address the pope’s reported use of the offensive term, he explained that a “unilateral and misleading reading” of what the pope actually said had been leaked to outsiders. And apart from the fact that Francis “comes from Latin America and Italian is not his own language,” he said, it is “a fundamental hermeneutical principle” that “a word or phrase taken out of the context in which they were pronounced can convey a totally different message to the authentic one.”

To continue reading this article, click here.

Gerard O’Connell is America’s Vatican correspondent and author of The Election of Pope Francis: An Inside Story of the Conclave That Changed History. He has been covering the Vatican since 1985.

With thanks to America, where this article originally appeared.


Read Daily
* indicates required