The Holy See has walked back the pontiff’s alleged “offensive” comments FILE PHOTO: Pope Francis. © Franco Origlia / Getty Images

The Holy See has officially apologized to anyone who took offense at a term which Pope Francis reportedly used to describe what is going on at Catholic seminaries.

Last week, during a closed-door conference with Italian bishops, the pontiff came out in opposition to gay men enrolling in seminaries, as there is too much “frociaggine” (Italian for “faggotry”) there already, several Italian outlets reported on Monday.

“The Pope never intended to offend or express himself in homophobic terms, and he apologizes to those who felt offended by the use of a term, as reported by others,” papal spokesman Matteo Bruni said in a statement on Tuesday.

“Pope Francis is aware of the recent articles regarding a closed-door conversation with the bishops of the CEI. As he has stated on many occasions, ‘There is room for everyone in the Church, for everyone! No one is useless; no one is superfluous; there is room for everyone. Just as we are, everyone’,” Bruni added.

Outlets La Repubblica and Corriere della Sera, among others, quoted unnamed Italian bishops who said the pope had used the term “jokingly,” while justifying the Vatican’s ongoing ban on gays in the priesthood.

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The current pontiff was born Jorge Mario Bergoglio in Argentina, and grew up speaking Spanish as his native language. When the 87-year-old uses Italian, he “often speaks informally, jokes using slang and even curses in private,” according to AP.

Since 2005, the Vatican has banned persons who “practice homosexuality, present deep-seated homosexual tendencies or support the so-called gay culture” from enrolling in seminaries or getting ordained as clergymen. A document recently adopted by the Italian bishops’ conference has reportedly sought to redefine the ban by mandating celibacy instead. Unlike some Orthodox clergy, Roman Catholic priests are forbidden from marrying.

Pope Francis has been known for LGBT outreach since the start of his papacy in 2013, from ministering to transgender Catholics to allowing priests to bless same-sex couples. In an interview last year, he argued that homosexuality was “not a crime” – but maintained that Catholicism regarded it as a sin, just like any sex outside of marriage.

Just last month, however, the Roman Catholic Church denounced surrogacy and so-called “gender-affirming” surgery as being on par with abortion and euthanasia. (RT)