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Pope told off by student for using anti-LGBTQ language

By Joel Guinto, BBC News

Pope Francis has been told by a Filipino Catholic university student to “stop using offensive language” against LGBTQ people.

Slurs cause “immense pain”, Jack Lorenz Acebedo Rivero said during an online video panel with other Catholic university students and the pope.

His comments come after reports that the Pope used extremely offensive language against gay men during a closed-door meeting last month with bishops.

He later apologised to those “hurt” and the Vatican said he did not mean to offend anyone.

The Pope reportedly said gay men should not be allowed to train for the priesthood, adding there was already an air of frociaggine, which translates as a highly offensive slur.

This has shocked many, as the Pope has often talked publicly about being respectful toward gay people.

He recently created consternation among Catholic traditionalists by saying priests should be able to bless same-sex couples in some circumstances and has frequently talked of gay people being welcome in the Church.

The forum, which was broadcast live on social media on Thursday, had the theme “Building Bridges” in a region of diverse religions and ethnicities. It brought together Catholic university students from across different countries.

The student from the Ateneo de Manila University told the Pope that he has been “outcasted and bullied due to my bisexuality, my gayness, my identity and being the son of a single parent”.

He then called on him to: “Stop using offensive language against the LGBTQIA+ community.”

Mr. Rivera, who wore a rainbow-colored sash over his traditional Filipino garment, also asked the Pope to “allow divorce in the Philippines”.

Aside from the Vatican, the Philippines is the only country in the world where divorce is illegal. This is due to a strong lobby against it by the Roman Catholic Church.

The Pope waited for all three students in Mr Rivera’s group to speak before giving his replies.

He did not address Mr Rivera’s concerns but said through a translator that he was advising Mr. Rivera to differentiate true love from false love.

“Always pick true love,” he said.

The Pope also told the group that “women are the best people” even if society views them as second to men.

He recalled a conversation with a female European leader who told him that “maternal ability” gives her the edge over men.

“Many women have brought children on their own… A widower can hardly go on their own. A woman, alone, can certainly grow her family. This is the greatness of women.”