Four in five Vatican priests are gay, explosive book reveals – Harriet Sherwood

Pope Francis

In the Closet of the Vatican The 570-page book, which the French journalist and author Frédéric Martel spent four years researching, is a “startling account of corruption and hypocrisy at the heart of the Vatican”, according to its British publisher Bloomsbury.  

Some of the most senior clerics in the Roman Catholic Church who have vociferously attacked homosexuality are themselves gay, according to a book to be published next week.

Eighty per cent of priests working at the Vatican are gay, although not necessarily sexually active, it is claimed in the book, In the Closet of the Vatican.

The 570-page book, which the French journalist and author Frédéric Martel spent four years researching, is a “startling account of corruption and hypocrisy at the heart of the Vatican”, according to its British publisher Bloomsbury.

It is being published in eight languages across 20 countries next Wednesday, coinciding with the opening day of a conference at the Vatican on sexual abuse, to which bishops from all over the world have been summoned.

Martel, a former adviser to the French government, conducted 1,500 interviews while researching the book, including with 41 cardinals, 52 bishops and monsignors, 45 papal ambassadors or diplomatic officials, 11 Swiss guards and more than 200 priests and seminarians, according to a report on the Catholic website The Tablet.

Many spoke of an unspoken code of the “closet”, with one rule of thumb being that the more homophobic a cleric was, the more likely he was to be gay.

Martel alleges that one Colombian cardinal, the late Alfonso López Trujillo, who held a senior Vatican position, was an arch-defender of Church teaching on homosexuality and contraception while using male prostitutes, The Tablet said.

The author found that some gay priests accepted their sexuality and a few maintained discreet relationships, but others sought high-risk casual encounters. Some were in denial about their sexuality.

Although the book does not conflate homosexuality with the sexual abuse of children, Martel describes a secretive culture among priests that creates conditions in which abuse is not confronted, say people familiar with the book’s contents.

According to Bloomsbury’s promotional material, Inside the Closet “reveals secrets” about celibacy, misogyny and plots against Pope Francis. It uncovers “a clerical culture of secrecy which starts in junior seminaries and continues right up to the Vatican itself”.

Francis has riled his conservative critics in the Vatican over his apparently softer tone towards gay people. A few months into his papacy, he told reporters who asked about a “gay lobby” at the Vatican: “If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge?”

Last year Juan Carlos Cruz, a Chilean survivor of sexual abuse, said Francis told him in a private meeting: “Juan Carlos, that you are gay does not matter. God made you like this and loves you like this and I don’t care. The pope loves you like this. You have to be happy with who you are.”

But a Polish priest who was sacked from his Vatican job and defrocked after announcing he was gay has accused the Church of making the lives of millions of gay Catholics “a hell”.

In a letter to Francis in 2015, Krzysztof Charamsa criticised what he called the Vatican’s hypocrisy in banning gay priests and said the clergy was “full of homosexuals”.

In December, Francis was quoted in a book about vocations as saying homosexuality was a “fashion” to which the clergy was susceptible.

“The issue of homosexuality is a very serious issue that must be adequately discerned from the beginning with the candidates [for the priesthood]. In our societies it even seems that homosexuality is fashionable and that mentality, in some way, also influences the life of the Church,” he said.

The timing of Inside the Closet’s publication, at the start of a milestone summit on sexual abuse, will raise concerns that some people may seek to conflate the two issues.

But the book’s allegations are likely to be pored over by senior bishops flying into Rome from more than 100 countries for the four-day summit. – The Guardian, 12 February 2019

»  Harriet Sherwood writes about religion and social issues for The Guardian and The Observer in London. 

St. Peter's Cathedral


 

2 Responses

  1. Luigi Ventura

    Pope’s French ambassador under investigation for alleged sexual assault – David Chazan & Nick Squires – The Telegraph – Paris – 15 February 2019

    The Pope’s envoy to France is under investigation for an alleged sexual assault on a male Paris City Hall staffer during an official event last month.

    Luigi Ventura, 74, has served as the Papal Nuncio — the pontiff’s diplomatic representative — in Paris since 2009.

    He is accused of molesting the man at City Hall on January 17, when the Nuncio attended a New Year’s address to diplomats, religious leaders and civil society figures by the mayor, Anne Hidalgo.

    The Paris prosecutor’s office said the investigation was opened after City Hall lodged a complaint six days later. Archbishop Ventura is accused of “inappropriately touching” the man, whose identity has not been disclosed.

    He was described as a member of City Hall’s General Delegation for International Relations. “The Nuncio repeatedly let his hands wander,” according to a City Hall source.

    A source close to the case said: “This is a complicated matter because Archbishop Ventura is a diplomat and he will want to invoke his right to diplomatic immunity from prosecution.”

    Archbishop Ventura declined to comment.

    A Vatican spokesman said: “The Holy See is waiting for [the] investigation’s conclusion.” The spokesman, Alessandro Gisotti, said the Vatican had learned about the investigation from media reports.

    The archbishop was born in Borgosatollo, northern Italy, in 1944, and began working for the diplomatic service of the Holy See in 1978, nearly 10 years after he was ordained a priest.

    Before being posted in Paris, he served in Brazil, Bolivia and the UK until 1984.

    He was then appointed to the Section for Relations with States at the Vatican Secretariat of State until 1995, later serving as Nuncio in Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso and Niger. In 1999 he was named Papal Nuncio to Chile, and Canada in 2001.

    Roman Catholics in France have been shocked by allegations of child sexual abuse by priests and the archbishop of Lyon, Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, is on trial on charges of helping to cover it up.

    A verdict is due on March 7. Bernard Preynat, a French priest involved in the scandal, has been trying to block the release of a film about child abuse by priests by the acclaimed director, François Ozon, best known for ‘Swimming Pool’ starring Charlotte Rampling.

    The film has premiered in Berlin and is due for release in France on Wednesday. A new book, due to be published next week, claims that about 80 per cent of priests at the Vatican are homosexual.

    The book, In the Closet of the Vatican, by a French author and journalist, Frédéric Martel, is based on 1,500 interviews with priests, cardinals, Vatican ambassadors, seminarians and members of the Swiss Guard, the Pope’s private army.

    Mr Martel claims that some gay priests are in relationships while others frequent male prostitutes. Some are in denial while others are gay but celibate.

    The book will be published on the opening day of a big conference at the Vatican on preventing the sexual abuse of children and minors by clergy.

    The conference will be attended by bishops and archbishops from around the world – specifically, the 130 presidents of national bishops’ conferences. Campaign groups and survivors of sex abuse by priests are sceptical that the three-day event will achieve anything concrete.

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