Editor insists magazine has names of openly gay priests
ITALIAN NEWS magazine Panoramayesterday defended its current controversial cover story, containing undercover revelations about the highly active gay sex lives of some priests based in and around Rome’s Holy See.
Responding to accusations of scandal-mongering from unnamed church sources, editor Giorgio Mulé said those senior church figures who did not believe the report should be aware that Panoramahas the names and addresses of the priest protagonists.
Last Friday, Panoramapublished a report by undercover reporter Carmelo Abbate detailing a month-long series of gay parties and brief encounters in and around the Holy See, featuring openly gay priests. Abbate claims he was introduced into this particular gay community by a gay friend who invited him to attend a party in the Testaccio area of Rome, a party hosted by a French priest, referred to as Fr “Paul”.
Supplementing the photographic documentary evidence published by the magazine, Panoramaalso posted a film on its web site (panorama.it) which features many of the episodes recounted by Abbate in his article.
In particular, Fr Paul is seen “dirty dancing” with two gay dancers, and then caught in a series of passionate embraces with a man while stretched out on a bed wearing only boxer shorts. Later, Fr Paul is seen wearing clerical vestments as he celebrates Mass, apparently in a private apartment.
Along with Church sources, Italian gays expressed their reservations about the article. Activist Aurelio Mancuso, a former president of the Italian gay movement, ArciGay, argued the news magazine, which is part of the media empire of prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, wanted to use the gay issue as a way of attacking the church: “This is a squalid political and cultural operation; in order to attack the Catholic Church you propose a vision of the homosexual community that is stuffed with stereotypes . . .”
However, the Berlusconi-owned daily Il Giornaleyesterday pointed out that the existence of a website, venerabilis.tk, dedicated to “homosexual Roman Catholic priests” provides incontrovertible proof that many Catholic priests not only have homosexual tendencies but are also sexually active. Dedicated to priests “who are neither gay nor homosexual but who are homo-sensitive”, this site appears to host a compromising chat room in which Il Giornale claims to have read messages such as: “I am a 33-year-old priest, I live close to Rome, I am very discreet but anxious to have a relationship.”
The Vicariate of Rome, Cardinal Agostino Vallini, has claimed that the article was clearly an attempt “to create scandal and to defame all priests”.
In particular, the cardinal pointed the finger at a remark attributed to another of the gay priests, Fr “Carlo”, who is reported as saying that 98 per cent of the priests he knows are gay.
Vatican observers point out, however, that the vicariate has been concerned about the behaviour of priests in Rome as evidenced by a sort of “moral screening” carried out in the last year on the 2,000 foreign priests and 1,300 Italian priests based in the Eternal City.