Catholic Church cover-up of sex abuse linked to secret gay culture in Vatican, book claims on eve of papal summit
July 11, 2020 | News | No Comments
Decades of sex abuse cover-ups within the Catholic Church are intrinsically linked to the fact that so many cardinals, bishops and priests are gay, the author of a new book on homosexuality within the Vatican said on Wednesday.
Bishops are so terrified of being outed as gay that they have been resistant to reporting priests accused of raping and molesting children, said Frédéric Martel, the author of In the Closet of the Vatican.
The claims were made as victims of clerical sex abuse demanded a policy of zero tolerance from the Vatican and Pope Francis likened critics of the Church to “the devil”.
The book, which alleges that a majority of Catholic clergy are homosexual, will be published in several languages in 20 countries on Thursday.
It coincides with Pope Francis opening an unprecedented, four-day conference at the Vatican on how to combat the scourge of sex abuse.
“Abuses are protected by this culture of secrecy. The two things are intrinsically linked,” Mr Martel, a journalist and sociologist, said during a presentation of the book in Rome.
“Bishops may not be abusers themselves. But they protect priests because they are terrified that if there’s a scandal or an investigation or a trial, then their own homosexuality may be revealed.”
There had been thousands of cases around the world of bishops protecting priests who molested children, he said.
While many gay priests are sexually active, many others are in denial. “They are repressed, they live a life of hypocrisy and schizophrenia – a double life,” said Mr Martel.
“Everyone is protecting his own little secret. It’s not one big closet – it’s lots of individuals in lots of little closets.”
He quotes a priest who estimates that 80% of Vatican clergy are gay – although Mr Martel said he has no way of verifying that figure.
The book is the product of four years of research in which the author interviewed 41 cardinals, 50 bishops, 45 Vatican ambassadors and 11 Swiss Guards, nine of them retired but three of whom are still serving in the Pope’s personal protection corps.
One of the leading figures in this hidden world was Alfonso Lopez Trujillo, a Colombian cardinal, who in public was stridently anti-gay and pro-family but in private slept with male prostitutes, according to the book.
Once head of the Pontifical Council for the Family, he died in 2008. “The more homophobic they are, the more likely they are to be gay. That’s the number one rule of the Vatican,” said the author.
He also claims that Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, while not actively gay, is a “repressed homophile” and homosexually inclined.
Homosexual men are “the great silent majority” in the Catholic Church. “It’s what I define as fifty shades of gay,” said Mr Martel.
Some are celibate, others are in monogamous relationships, while others are highly promiscuous.
Nearly 200 bishops, archbishops and other senior Vatican officials will discuss the themes of responsibility, accountability and transparency during a series of workshops and lectures.
But victims of clerical sex abuse say that agenda is inadequate and called for concrete reforms instead of more lofty rhetoric and vague promises.
“We’ve heard a lot of words from Pope Francis since he was elected but now is the time to do the right thing,” said Peter Isely, an American who was abused by a priest as a boy.
“We want zero tolerance. Any priest who has sexually assaulted a child should be removed from the priesthood and the same goes for bishops or cardinals who cover up for them.
“That needs to be written into the universal law of the Church. It needs to be an infallible doctrine – and Pope Francis can order it with the stroke of a pen,” said Mr Isely, from the survivors’ group Ending Clergy Abuse. “What’s the hold-up? Why doesn’t he do this?”
Several survivors met with the organising committee of the Vatican summit on Wednesday, including cardinals from the US and India.
Phil Saviano, whose story of abuse by a priest was portrayed in the Oscar-winning film Spotlight, urged the Vatican to release the names of predatory priests so that children can be protected from them.
Juan Carlos Cruz, a Chilean victim of abuse, said: “The culture of cover-up needs to end."
The Pope did not meet the victims. Instead, he likened critics of the Church to the devil.
People who spend their lives accusing the Church of wrongdoing are “the friends, cousins and relatives of the devil,” he said during an audience at the Vatican.