Student tells Pope Francis to stop using anti-LGBT language

June 21, 2024 - 10:59 AM
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Pope Francis leads the Angelus prayer from his window, in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, December 24, 2023. (Reuters/Remo Casilli)

 A student pleaded with Pope Francis on Thursday to stop using offensive language against the LGBT community, taking the 87-year-old pontiff to task over homophobic slurs he has allegedly used during private meetings.

READ: Pope repeats gay slur in closed-door meeting, ANSA reports

Francis was twice quoted by Italian media in the last month as using the Italian term “frociaggine”, roughly translating as “faggotness” or “faggotry”, referring to priests and to the general atmosphere in the Vatican.

The Vatican issued a rare apology after the first report, but the incident sparked outrage and Vatican watchers said it had damaged Francis’ image as a reforming LGBT-friendly pope.

READ: Pope issues rare apology over reported homophobic slur | Pope used vulgar Italian word to refer to LGBT people, Italian newspapers report

Jack Lorenz Acebedo Rivera addressed the pontiff during a panel discussion on “Building Bridges Across Asia Pacific” between university students and the pope which was broadcast on YouTube.

“Stop using offensive language against the LGBTQIA+ community, this leads to immense pain,” said Acebedo Rivera, who said he was a psychology student at the Ateneo de Manila University in the Philippines.

“I myself I am outcasted and bullied due to my bisexuality, my gayness, my identity, and being a son of a single parent,” he said.

Acebedo Rivera, who was wearing the rainbow sash symbolizing the LGBT rights movement, also urged the pontiff to work towards helping to make divorce easier in the Philippines.

In his response, the pope spoke strongly against discrimination, particularly targeting women, but did not address Acebedo Rivera’s appeal regarding his alleged homophobic language.

A Vatican spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment on this story.

— Reporting by Angelo Amante; Editing by Gavin Jones and Frances Kerry