“Keep an eye on the admissions to seminaries, keep your eyes open,” the pope was quoted as saying. “If in doubt, better not let them enter.” Pope Francis warned Italian bishops this week to vet carefully applicants to the priesthood and “reject anyone they suspected might be homosexual”, local media reported on Thursday.
The Vatican did not immediately respond to a request for a comment on the remarks, which Vatican Insider and Il Messaggero said were made at a closed-door gathering on Monday.
Francis’s meeting with Italian bishops came just a day after a Chilean man who suffered clerical sexual abuse quoted the pope as telling him in a private conversation that God had made him gay and loved him that way.
The comments may appease conservatives alarmed at the way Pope Francis has dramatically shifted the language the Catholic Church has used about homosexuality since his election.
“If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge?” the pope said on his first overseas trip in 2013. In 2016, he said he had ministered to people with unfulfilled homosexual tendencies as well as homosexuals who were not able to remain chaste, as the Church asks them to.
“When a person arrives before Jesus, Jesus certainly will not say: ‘Go away because you are homosexual’,” he said.