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University student warns Pope Francis to stop using offensive language against the LGBTQIA+ community

by Lydia Davies

A university student has urged Pope Francis to stop using language deemed harmful to the LGBT+ community following a recent incident where the Vatican issued an apology for a derogatory remark.

Jack Lorenz Acebedo Rivera, a student from Ateneo de Manila University in the Philippines, conveyed to the Pope the significant distress such comments cause. During a live Building Bridges video panel, which aimed to connect Catholic university students globally, Rivera shared his personal experiences of discrimination due to his bisexuality and family background.

Wearing a rainbow sash over traditional Filipino attire, Rivera said: “Stop using offensive language against the LGBTQIA+ community."

His plea came in the wake of reports that Pope Francis had made remarks suggesting gay men should not be permitted to enter priesthood training, employing an offensive term during a discussion at the Italian Bishops’ Conference.

The Vatican clarified that the Pope did not intend any disrespect.

The Vatican's statement highlighted Pope Francis's stance that "In the Church, there is room for everyone... there is room for everyone, just the way we are," quoting Matteo Bruni, director of the Holy See.

Pope Francis did not directly respond to Rivera's comments during the panel but advised through a translator on choosing "true love" over falsehoods.

Furthermore, Pope Francis praised women's resilience and capabilities in leadership and family roles. Recounting an encounter with a female European leader, he admired her "maternal ability" and remarked on women's unique strength in raising families alone – a task he viewed as more challenging for widowers.

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