Vatican reels amid sex scandals

Vatican reels amid sex scandals

A four-day meeting of Catholic bosses begins at the Vatican this Thursday to address the issue of child sex abuse.

Meanwhile, stories continue of sexual abuse of nuns by priests and bishops, publicly acknowledged for the first time by Pope Francis last week.

The pope called child abuse an “urgent challenge of our time”. He told worshippers in St Peter’s Square: “From Thursday to next Sunday there will be a meeting in the Vatican of the presidents of all episcopal conferences on the theme of the protection of minors in the church. I invite you to pray for this meeting, which I wanted as an act of strong pastoral responsibility to face an urgent challenge of our time”.

Marco Politi, a Vatican watcher, said the pope was facing “serious opposition” within the church.

“There is a struggle going on between the pope and his supporters who want a change, and a lot of people amongst the bishops and amongst the clergy who don’t want transparency and applying law and order in the abuse issue in the world,” he said.

But the high-profile gathering may be overshadowed by a book being launched this week about scandals within the Vatican.

In the Closet of the Vatican, released by UK-based Bloomsbury Publishing, claims many of the clergy at the Vatican who have most vociferously attacked homosexuality are themselves gay.

It estimates that 80 per cent of priests working at the Vatican are gay, although not all are active.

The author, French journalist Frédéric Martel, spent four years researching the subject, the Catholic weekly the Tablet reported.

“I think the percentage is very high,” said a source, identified as an Italian journalist who left the priesthood after he was caught watching gay porn on his Vatican computer. “I’d put it around 80 per cent.”

Martel, a former French government adviser, said he spent years in Rome, completing 1,500 interviews, including with 41 cardinals, 52 bishops and monsignors, 11 of the elaborately dressed Swiss guards (pictured) and more than 200 priests and seminarians.

The author said the late Colombian cardinal Alfonso López Trujillo, who condemned homosexuality and contraception, used to see male prostitutes.

Trujillo in 1992 began the Vatican’s World Meeting of Families to promote marriage as between a man and a woman.

Bloomsbury said the book was “a startling account of corruption and hypocrisy at the heart of the Vatican” which “exposes the rot at the heart of the Vatican and the Roman Catholic Church today”.


Antiquated? The Vatican’s Swiss guards. Picture credit: Flickr

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