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Take the Vatican ‘Gay Mafia’ talk with a pinch of holy salt – for now

22 February 2013

A rather feverish mood around the Vatican today: La Repubblica’s sensational splash suggesting that Pope Benedict XVI was pushed out by a ‘gay mafia’ within the Church hierarchy has set Latin tongues wagging. Lurid whispers about sex and bribery abound. The theory – given wind by Benedict’s Ash Wednesday statement that opposition ‘mars the face of the church’ – is that the Pope was so appalled by the findings of the top secret 300-page dossier he commissioned into the ‘Vatileaks’ scandal, he decided he couldn’t go on.

It’s all rather intoxicatingly Italian, even if it sounds a bit too much like a pastiche to be true. More sober voices point out that journalism here is always incredibly hyperbolic and La Repubblica is on the wackier fringe. Others add that Pope Benedict XVI is hardly the sort of character to throw in the towel. So for now, at least, it would be better not to take the rumours with a pinch of holy salt.

That said, there seems little doubt that senior people in Rome are very worried about this dossier. How will the next Pontiff – whoever he may be – handle it?

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  • JabbaTheCat
  • David Berger

    To outsiders, the prevalence of homophobia in Benedict’s proclamations and among his entourage was truly puzzling. Whenever homosexual love among men was mentioned, Benedict seemed to regard it as proof of the influence of the forces of evil. Proposals to liberalize the Church’s position were equated with anarchic nightmares and the decline of the Occident.

    Benedict was driven by a “panicky fear” of homosexuals. None of his predecessors had spoken as much, and with as much contempt, about homosexuality, about gay men and their fight for equality and against discrimination. The culmination of this trend were statements from inside the Vatican that supported Uganda’s government in its proposal to re-introduce the death penalty for homosexual acts. Homosexuals were also used as scapegoats during the abuse scandal.

    See more here:

    • Austin Barry

      Surely, Benedict wasn’t exercised by homosexuality? The head honcho of a club of ‘celibate’ men in dresses is unlikely to be homophobic. The Roman Catholic Church is rather more misogynistic.

    • the viceroy’s gin

      Why would homosexuals insist on attaching themselves to an institution, then complain about that institution’s opinion of homosexuality?


      • CraigStrachan

        Perhaps because some of the “homosexuals who insist on attaching themselves” to the Catholic church are the very same people who promulgate said “opinion of homosexuality”. An opinion that – as David Berger points out – has been expressed in rather hysterical terms under Ratzinger.

        Hypocrisy is always unattractive.

        • the viceroy’s gin

          Well, as they say, hypocrisy is the homage that vice pays to virtue.

          But that doesn’t answer the question. Why do homosexuals so stridently wish to be a part of an institution, only to complain about its opinion of homosexuality?

          It’s strange.

          • CraigStrachan

            For many homosexuals it may be less a question of wishing to be part of an institution than of being born, raised, educated and even ordained within it.

            • the viceroy’s gin

              Well, it can’t be less a matter, it can only be the matter, or not.

              You either wish or you don’t, and apparently there is a group of homosexuals who wish.

              It’s strange.

              • CraigStrachan

                It’s strange that a Pope who seems so obviously to be a gay man should also be so homophobic.

                • the viceroy’s gin

                  All that may be true, or not.

                  However, it still doesn’t answer the question. Why do homosexuals so stridently demand to be a part of this institution, only to complain about its opinion of homosexuality?

                  It’s strange, and you aren’t removing any of that strangeness so far.

                • CraigStrachan

                  They ARE part of the institution, and at the highest levels.

                • the viceroy’s gin

                  Perhaps all true, or not.

                  It still doesn’t answer the question. And you’re still not removing any of the strangeness.

                  The institution has an opinion of homosexuality, and it also has an opinion of homosexuals. You seem to be conflating those 2 things, and that will certainly hinder you from ever answering the above question.

                • CraigStrachan

                  I’d say the institution has an opinion of homosexuality, and an opinion of homosexuals, which opinions are heavily influenced by the large number of closeted and self-loathing homosexuals at the highest levels of the institution.

                • the viceroy’s gin

                  Perhaps all true, or not.

                  It still doesn’t answer the question.

                  Why are homosexuals so insistent about attaching themselves to this institution, while then raging against its opinions about homosexuality?

                  It’s just all very strange. You really should address that question, rather than avoiding it.

                • CraigStrachan

                  Your oft-repeated question assumes that homosexuals are somehow an”other” who seek to “attach” themselves to the church. In fact, they are and always have been part and parcel of it.

                • the viceroy’s gin

                  No, nothing is assumed, other than we’d assume that you’ll continue to refuse to answer the above question.

                  And again, you’re conflating things. There’s people, and there’s behavior. You should at least make the attempt to distinguish between them. It may help you if you ever do decide to answer the question.

                  Why do homosexuals so shrilly clamor to be part of an institution, and then turn around and shrilly clamor about its opinion of homosexuality?

                  It is very strange. You’d be doing a service if you answered that question.

                • CraigStrachan

                  The better and more relevant question is why an institution that is so heavily staffed by gay men should be so shrilly homophobic.

                • the viceroy’s gin

                  Perhaps all true, or not.

                  It still doesn’t answer the above question.

                  Why are you refusing to answer that question?

                • CraigStrachan

                  Because it’s based on a false predicate.

                • the viceroy’s gin


                • CraigStrachan

                  See above.

                • the viceroy’s gin

                  The above is a series of refusals, disconnected, and with no answer to the question.

                  So, you’re refusing to answer the question, and you offer no explanation for that refusal. Fair enough, I suppose.

                  But the question stands, and the situation it describes is… strange.

                • CraigStrachan

                  The question stands as an example of a question flawed in conception.

                  But, yes, the situation of homosexuality within the Catholic church is indeed strange. And getting stranger.

                • the viceroy’s gin

                  Well, by “flawed”, you mean you refuse to answer the question, while offering no reason for doing so. Again, fair enough, but don’t take it any further than that. The question is valid, and very precise. There is nothing flawed about it.

                  I don’t know about homosexuality within that institution, and you could be right about it… or not.

                  But that still doesn’t answer the original question, and removes none of the strangeness in the situation described.

                • CraigStrachan

                  As I am neither a Catholic or a homosexual wishes to be attached to the Catholic church, I’m not sure the question, for all that it is flawed, is best addressed to me in the first place.

                  But I have indicated why I think the question is flawed: it is premised upon a conception of “homosexuals who wish to be part of an institution” as one thing, and “the institution” – which has particular views of homosexuality and homosexuals – as another thing.

                  In fact, they are the same thing. Homosexuals are born and baptized into the Catholic church, are part of the body of Christ (as the Catholic church would have it), are educated within the church, ordained as priests, consecrated as bishops, even elected Pope.

                  The real question is why an institution that so benefits from the devoted service of so many gay people, and counts so many gay people as members-from-birth, should be (officially at least) so homophobic?

                • the viceroy’s gin

                  Well, you responded when I first posed that question above, so apparently you wanted to address it (by not addressing it?).

                  You still haven’t supported this “flawed” business. Homosexuals are anxious to be part of that institution. That’s a given. And yet, they clamor against the institution’s opinion re homosexuality. That, too, is a given. Strange, but that’s what’s occurring, and what the quite unflawed question is seeking to have answered.

                  Homosexuals and homosexuality are not the same thing. Homosexuals are people, and homosexuality is behavior. This is a given as well. It does nobody any good to have them conflated somehow, as you’re doing.

                  Now, you may not like this institution’s opinions on homosexuality. Fair enough. But as far as I know, they’ve been in place for a fair number of days. Perhaps years. Nobody need question their sincerity, or their failure to communicate them.

                  So the real question is, why would homosexuals clamor to be a member of this institution, yet shriek about the institution’s (long term) opinion about homosexuality?

                  It’s just very strange.

                • FMarion


                  You say that “The real question is why an institution that so benefits from the devoted service of so many gay people, and counts so many gay people as members-from-birth, should be (officially at least) so homophobic?”
                  Putting aside your loaded terms the simple answer is that homosexual conduct has been condemned in the Judeo-Christian tradition for 3500 years and the scriptural passages on it are clear. Homosexual conduct is understood to be intrinsically wrong. Other things are seen that way also, including all sexual conduct outside of marriage. You regard those teachings as, among other things, “homophobic.” The contrary view would be that they are based in actual human ontology, which you, like much of contemporary society, tend to misunderstand.

                • CraigStrachan

                  “homosexual conduct has been condemned in the Judeo-Christian tradition for 3500 years and the scriptural passages on it are clear”

                  I have the impression that you think it helps your case that you (apparently) share the prejudices of primitives from millenia past. I think rather the opposite.

                  As for clear scriptural passages – well, we are here discussing the Catholic church, which is not renowned for adherence to sola scriptura. And of course other religious organizations within the Judeo-Christian tradition (Reform Judaism, Episcopalians, Quakers, Unitarians, some other Protestants) take a different and more enlightened view of the scriptures you find to be so clear and condemnatory.

                • FMarion

                  This might come as a surprise, but changing the subject and constructing strawmen are nor normally thought of as ways to win arguments. But let’s nevertheless examine your arguments, such as they are.

                  According to you, the church’s objection to homosexual practice reflects the “prejudices of primitives from millenia past.” Primitives such as Sts. Paul, Jude, Augustine, Thomas Aquinas and many more? I know that modern progressives tend to think highly of themselves, but do you really think yourself to be more intelligent than Aquinas? Do you really think that your understanding of human nature and ontology can stand up to Augustine’s? You apparently do not share their faith in God, but do not assume that means either they were primitive or that you are enlightened. Indeed, your use of the word “enlightened” to describe views that agree with your own is little more than self flattery.

                  Next, if you know enough to know what sola scriptura is, then you also know enough that you use it as a red herring–it has nothing to do with the clarity of scriptural passages. It is a complete non sequitur here.

                  As for other religious groups now concluding that homosexual conduct is acceptable, again you miss the point. It is simply a fact that until the late 20th Century, the Judeo-Christian tradition unanimously agreed that homosexual conduct was wrong, and that Christianity “always and everywhere” condemned it and any other sexual conduct outside of marriage. The fact that several groups have now voted to decide that it is acceptable does nothing to change that tradition or make the scriptural passages less clear.

                  And that brings us back to my original point–the one that you tried to evade. You certainly are entitled to your own opinion on homosexual conduct, but to pretend that there is any question on why the Catholic church holds the position it does–as your prior post did–lacks even the most basic plausibility.

                • CraigStrachan

                  Yes, primitives such as those you mention. Although it doesn’t really reflect on their intelligence to call them primitive. You can have primitive intelligence, can’t you?

                  As for sola scriptura, I don’t invoke it as a red herring. You seemed to be justifying the (official) position of the Catholic church on homosexuality by claiming that scripture is clear on the question. But Catholicism does not rely on scripture alone. It relies on scripture as interpreted by one’s god-given intelligence, as mediated by the teaching authority of the church, and as enhanced by the various extra-scriptural doctrines, dogmas and creeds of the church. So to say that “the scripture is clear” when the subject is the Catholic church and its positions is, well, problematic. (I was raised in the Reformed tradition!)

                • FMarion

                  Craig: Well, I guess you have made it pretty clear. Those who agree with you are “enlightened” those who disagree on traditional reasons are “primitive.” My advice would be to actually read Aquinas and Augustine before dismissing them as “primitive” (and, no, reading snippets of their work in a first-year college philosophy seminar isn’t reading them). You won’t, of course, at least right now, but there might come a time when your current progressive ideas do not seem to be enough you might want to give it a try. Both are demanding, but both are worthwhile.

                • the viceroy’s gin

                  “And of course other religious organizations within the Judeo-Christian tradition (Reform Judaism, Episcopalians, Quakers, Unitarians, some other Protestants) take a different and more enlightened view of the scriptures you find to be so clear and condemnatory.”


                  Fair enough. There are other institutions who disagree with this particular institution. Point granted.

                  But that would only give more urgency to my original question, that given the plethora of institutions available, fully compliant with your standards apparently, why do homosexuals clamor to be a part of this one (obviously deficient by your lights) institution, while then complaining about that institution’s opinions regarding homosexuality?

                  It’s just very, very strange.

                • CraigStrachan

                  vg, i made two attempts to respond to your last post, but they both disappeared into “awaiting moderation”. We seem to be straying into territory that is tripping the filters, here.

                  Either that, or we have become tiresomely repetitive.

                • the viceroy’s gin

                  Well, the straying “we” must be you and that little mouse in your pocket, because I’m not being moderated. Suggest you tone it down, as this moderator does tend to clamp down on code words.

                  And the code words aren’t needed, to respond to my question.

                • CraigStrachan

                  The vanished posts sought to address the distinction you attempt between “homosexuals” and “homosexuality”. Or, as the Catholic church would have it, orientation and practise.

                  (But the news about Cardinal Keith Patrick O’Brien probably makes my point, better than I!)

                • the viceroy’s gin

                  I “attempt” nothing. The “distinction” between homosexuals and homosexuality is likely something well understood by all, other than you, the mouse and others obfuscatory.

                  I get it that you have a “point”, and more power to your for having it, but I’m still waiting for your answer to my question.

                  It’s all just very strange.

                • CraigStrachan

                  No, “homosexuality” implies nothing about behavior. It is simply the state of being homosexual, surely?

                  However, I don’t regard the distinction the Catholic church makes between “orientation” and ” behavior” to be at all helpful or healthy. It tends to lead to the sort of hypocrisy I mentioned earlier, and that we now see again in the news.

                • the viceroy’s gin

                  More power to you for having regard. But playing the semantics game is always a loser, and should be your first indication that you’re fudging, and have little argument.

                  People are people. Behavior is behavior. It’s that simple, and has always been. You and the mouse need to stop obfuscating, as it’s a waste of time and merely marks you as dodgy.

                  And most importantly, you still aren’t answering my question.

                  I get it that you regard this institution poorly, but why is it homosexuals clamor to be a part of this institution, yet desperately strike out at its opinions regarding homosexuality?

                  Strange. Still.

                • FMarion

                  Viceroy’s: It’s even stranger because in the US the Episcopalian Church is filled with formerly Catholic feminists and homosexuals. The head of the Epiecopalian church, Ms. Schorii, is herself a former Catholic.

                • CraigStrachan

                  Whereas the Catholic hierarchy has no feminists, but plenty of homosexuals.

                • the viceroy’s gin

                  Perhaps so, or maybe not so.

                  But if so, it would be indication that they welcome homosexuals, if not homosexuality.

                • the viceroy’s gin

                  Yes, I could see some swapping of membership between institutions, and that’s probably a healthy thing.

                  I understand that the path for married Catholic priests is well traveled by Episcopalian ministers, as well. It makes sense, when you think about it. They have established practice, but they bend, and apparently don’t find married priests to be in major conflict with the institution.

                • FMarion

                  Yes many married Episcopalian and Lutheran ministers have become Catholic priests. The Catholic church has always allowed married priests–the Eastern Catholic rites, like the Orthodox, allow priests to marry before–but not after–thery are ordained, though bishops need to be unmarried. Latin rite Catholic priests ordinarily are celibate, but it is a “discipline” not a dogma and Pope John Paul II allowed a dispensation for some already married Protestant ministers who were converting.

    • abystander

      What you post is simply untrue.The Catholic church opposes the death penalty for any crime or offence and opposes the criminilasation of homosexuality. Wikileaks showed the US State Dept. asking the Vatican to intervene in Uganda to mobilise Catholic opposition to criminilisation. Wikileaks also showed diplomatic traffic from Washington confirming this had happened and Ugandan Catholic Bishops issued a pastoral letter condemning the proposal to criminalise.
      Please do not make things up.

    • FMarion

      No Mr. Berger, Benedict wasn’t driven by a “panicky fear” of homosexuality–he was driven by the plain and repeated scriptual statement that homosexual acts are sinful. You might not believe in scripture or the concept of sin, but to deny that others do undermines your entire screed.

      Nor is it true homosexuals were used as “scapegoats” during the abuse scandals. Approximately 90% of the victims in those scandals were male–with most of them being young boys between 12-14. If you dig deeper you will find that many and probably most of the priests involved were also involved in homosexual conduct with men over 18 years old, and that many of those expelled from the priesthood are now living as open homosexuals.
      To pretend that there is no link between homosexuality and the sexual abuse of young adolescent boys simply ignores the facts.

  • CraigStrachan

    “it sounds a bit too much like a pastiche to be true”

    It sounds very much of a piece with the work of David Berger on homosexuality in the church.

  • Hexhamgeezer

    Gay mafia my @rse.

    Why is everyone so scared of fingering the W.I?. a

  • Craig_Ranapia

    If the best this Vatican ‘Gay Mafia’ can do is “push out” an elderly and unwell man, it should be condemned — for rank incompetence. Still, nice way to change the subject from the real gangster-like behaviour within the Vatican (and the Church at large) — the protection racket for clerical rapists and child molesters that has operated with impunity for decades.

    • Tom Tom

      Should be a BBC docudrama but the lines would no doubt be redacted !

    • FMarion

      Nice bigotry, Craig. If you checked the facts you’d find that when he was a Cardinal the Popel created a new procedure that allowed church institutions to get rid of the molesters and that in places like the US the molestors are largely gone and the problem peaked 30 years ago. You’d also find that since molesters go where the kids are, that these days schools–particularly government schools–are having a real problem with them. So it you actually care about the kids, you might want to see if you can help out there.

  • Tom Tom

    Well Britain has lost its AAA rating tonight from Moodys so that can be tomorrow’s Speccie posting. As for Gay Mafia, well it is not restricted to the Church of Rome even if there is a sauna in Rome, a student apartment, an archbishop’s palace and other trysting points listed in the 300 page dossier presented to Benedict on the day he announced his resignation. Then again we still don’t have the name of the Tory Cabinet Minister arrested in Operation Fernbridge. One day we will know about the Gay Mafia in Westminster, Whitehall, Fleet Street and Buck House. Secret Societies looking after themselves…..even the BBC seems to have a few perverts but they get redacted protection because the Witchfinder Clacque cannot expose their own

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