Sorry is still the hardest word, part one

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‘The apology in this story isn’t a REAL apology at all’

An apology after the Pope used a highly offensive word about homosexual men, has highlighted how our Editor, Welshman Phil Parry during his research into the Roman Catholic (RC) Church for a Panorama programme, found that many priests WERE in fact gay…


It is weird when your own experience appears to challenge (or perhaps endorse!) the view of the powers that be.

A huge apology has had to be issued after the Pope used a term to describe gay people which is actually extremely offensive and homophobic, but, on the face of it, only outlines in a rather crude way what is the Roman Catholic RC Church’s official policy.

The Pope certainly hasn’t wrapped himself in the gay flag

La Repubblica and Corriere della Sera (Italy’s largest circulation daily papers), both used earlier sources, and quoted Pope Francis as saying seminaries, or priesthood colleges, are already too full of “frociaggine”, a vulgar Italian term roughly translating as “faggotness” or “faggotry”. He was also said to have reiterated his view that gay men should not be allowed to become priests.

‘We wear the trousers…’

Afterwards he was also alleged to have used sexist remarks in a meeting with priests – a huge embarrassment when the RC Church aims to attract more women (although not to the priesthood).

But it has continued – and this is all fodder to critics of the Church.

‘How would you all like to come into the Church? Ignore what I say!’

The shocking anti-women comments by Pope Francis were reported on the website Silere Non Possum which claimed to have a recording of him declaring: “Gossip is women’s business…we wear the trousers”.

According to ANSA news agency, the Pope repeated the homophobic term while meeting priests, saying there is an air of “frociaggine” in the Vatican and it was better that young men with a homosexual tendency not be allowed to enter the seminary.

‘I need to think about how I describe gay men in the Church’

However the announcements about gay people only seem to emphasise earlier stances by Pope Francis, and Church policy as a whole

In 2018, he told Italian bishops to vet priesthood applicants carefully and reject anyone suspected of being gay.

But the Vatican were forced to issue a statement of ‘clarification’ after the Pope’s first reported homophobic comment, of which this is the salient part: The Pope never intended to offend or express himself in homophobic terms, and he apologises to those who felt offended by the use of a term reported by others”.

Hats off to the media

Yet even here there is a caveat – by emphasising “…REPORTED BY OTHERS”, it puts distance between what has been said, and the Pope himself.

This was the key section, but, as usual, it was surrounded with a diatribe about ‘inclusivity’ in the Roman Catholic (RC) Church, which, in the context of what has happened, is completely meaningless

The statement declared: “As he (the Pope) stated on several occasions, ‘In the Church there is room for everyone, for everyone! Nobody is useless, nobody is superfluous, there is room for everyone. Just as we are, all of us'”.

The first incident reportedly happened on May 20, as first published on the political gossip website Dagospia, when the Italian Bishops Conference held a private meeting with the Pope.

“It’s all the fault of some bishop who broke his mandate of silence to report the gaffe that occurred”, reported Il Messaggero, a national paper based in Rome.

‘I accept official policy’

According to the media the Pope’s comments came during an informal Q&A session at the annual bishops’ meeting which was attended by over 200 members of the clergy.

Yet it appears that while the RC tries to fudge the issue, Pope Francis was only reflecting what is Church policy anyway.

Pray for gay people, even though the Church says they are “intrinsically immoral”

The catechism of the RC Church, names “homosexual acts” as “intrinsically immoral and contrary to the natural law”, and states that “homosexual tendencies” are “objectively disordered”.

It proclaims: “Although the particular inclination of the homosexual person is not a sin, it is a more or less strong tendency ordered toward an intrinsic moral evil; and thus the inclination itself must be seen as an objective disorder”.

‘The views of the Church on homosexuality here are incredible!’

It is this that, in my experience, some priests seem to have problems with.

Researching for a BBC TV Panorama programme called ‘Power to Abuse’, about the cover-up of sexual abuse by a priest at the RC Church in Wales, I conducted interviews with dozens of clergymen.

Many of them were probably gay, and struggling to come to terms with their sexuality when the Church’s teaching is against it.

Complete failure?

This wasn’t always popular, however, and one complainant wrote to me about a story I had written concerning a female television ‘reporter’ who had posted pictures of herself on social media in skimpy clothes, is sadly typical of the insults I constantly receive:“Your article on Ellie Pitt was bordering on mysogynistic bullying, a really pathetic article written by a bitter individual who was a complete failure as a BBC correspondent and also loved bashing the Catholic Church with your disgraceful Panorama programme”.

‘I’m so sorry but I never intended to cause offence ..’

But of course The Pope never intended to offend or express himself in homophobic terms..”.

So that’s all right then..!


The memories of Phil’s astonishing 40-year award-winning career in journalism, as he was gripped by the rare neurological disabling condition, Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia (HSP), have been released in a major book ‘A GOOD STORY’. Order the book now!


‘Sorry is still the hardest word, part two’ comes soon, where Phil examines how more evidence has emerged that a proper apology is almost never made, and this is wider than just the RC Church.