Edward Pentin began reporting on the Pope and the Vatican with Vatican Radio before moving on to become the Rome correspondent for the National Catholic Register. He has also reported on the Holy See and the Catholic Church for a number of other publications including Newsweek, Newsmax, Zenit, The Catholic Herald, and The Holy Land Review, a Franciscan publication specializing in the Church and the Middle East. Edward is the author of “The Rigging of a Vatican Synod? An Investigation into Alleged Manipulation at the Extraordinary Synod on the Family”, published by Ignatius Press. Follow him on Twitter @edwardpentin
According to reports in the mainstream media, Vatican police broke up a drug-fueled homosexual debauched party in an apartment of the Holy Office, but how true is it?
The news first broke in a June 28 article in Il Fatto Quotidiano: the Vatican gendarmerie raided a flat in the same building as the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith where they discovered hard drugs and a group of men engaged in homosexual activity. A number of prominent secular English-speaking media outlets have subsequently published extensive details of the Il Fatto Quotidiano report.
The article claims the occupant of the apartment was the secretary to Cardinal Francesco Coccopalmerio, president of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, the Church’s most important canon law office.
The report further claims that the area of the building was reserved not just for monsignors but senior curial officials, suggesting that the secretary had influential friends in high places to secure such a prestigious apartment.
Others residing in the Holy Office reportedly complained about a steady stream of young male visitors and of noisy parties in the secretary’s apartment — complaints that prompted the police raid. Further suspicions were also raised when others saw the secretary, a monsignor from the diocese of Palestrina near Rome, had access to a luxury car with Vatican plates which allegedly allowed him to bring drugs into the Vatican without ever being stopped by the Vatican police.
The article goes on to say that after the police bust, the secretary was taken to the Pio XI clinic in Rome where he underwent detoxification treatment for cocaine use. He was then sent away to a monastery at an unknown location in Italy.
The article’s author, Francesco Antonio Grana, says Pope Francis, whose Santa Marta residence is just 500 yards from the Holy Office, was aware of the raid and knew of the monsignor’s capture. Grana also points out that the main entrance to the Holy Office opens onto Italian territory and so is out of the control of the Swiss Guard and the Vatican police.
“Anyone, day and night, can enter the Vatican freely through this entrance without being subjected to any check,” Grana observed, adding that it made the Holy Office “a perfect location to enjoy the privileges of extraterritoriality without having to undergo checks of either the Italian State or those of Vatican City.”
He also revealed that Cardinal Coccopalmerio had reportedly recommended, unsuccessfully, that the secretary be made a bishop.
The Vatican is refusing to discuss the lurid story. Laura Signore, secretary to the commander of the Vatican police, Domenico Giani, told the Register June 30 that “as usual” the police commander “cannot issue any kind of statement or interviews.”
She added that the article is “seriously lacking in truth” and recommended we contact the Holy See Press Office for further information.
Vatican won't confirm
Holy See spokesman Greg Burke made it clear he would not confirm the orgy allegations, and did not comment when asked if he could not confirm all, or just parts, of the account reported in Il Fatto Quotidiano. Asked later if the Vatican would comment when the story had received global attention, Burke continued to remain silent.
On July 6, the Register called the secretary in question on his cell phone, but he instantly refused to speak when told he was speaking to a journalist, mumbling words to the effect: “Look, I cannot talk,” and hanging up.
In the meantime, a reliable senior member of the curia has told the Register that he has heard from “multiple sources” that the story is true, including from another senior curial figure.
He said the extent of homosexual practice in the Vatican has “never been worse,” despite efforts begun by Benedict XVI to root out sexual deviancy from the curia after the Vatileaks scandal of 2012.
A Vatican official who used to greet Cardinal Coccopalmerio’s secretary from time to time, told the Register he had noticed he hadn’t seen him for at least two months, and before he disappeared, had become very thin.
The Register also contacted Cardinal Coccopalmerio June 6 directly via email, asking if he was able to confirm the story, but he has so far not responded.
The precise details of the reported events in the CDF therefore remain open to question, but the substance of the story appears to be true. If so, many would find such behavior taking place in the Holy Office not only unconscionable but also highly sacrilegious.
The Holy Office building, which today is also home to some religious sisters as well as the CDF, dates back to the 16th century. From 1908 to 1965, the CDF was officially known as the Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office and its purpose was to "spread sound Catholic doctrine and defend those points of Christian tradition which seem in danger because of new and unacceptable doctrines.”
Since Benedict XVI’s pontificate, the Vatican dicastery has also been responsible for handling clerical sex abuse cases, although it should be stressed this scandal appears to have had nothing to do with the Congregation.
Pope Francis has addressed the issue of homosexuality in the Vatican before, and in particular the existence of a gay lobby. Returning from World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro in 2013, he said he had yet to find “anyone who can give me a Vatican identity card with ‘gay’ [written on it]. They say they are there.”
After saying all lobbies are bad, he cited the Catechism’s teaching against marginalizing homosexual persons, saying, “If a person is gay and seeks the Lord and has good will, well who am I to judge them?”
Last year, Cardinal Oscar Maradiaga, a close adviser to Pope Francis, acknowledged the presence of a “gay lobby” in the Vatican and said that “little by little the Pope is trying to purify it.”
Elmar Mäder, a former commander of the Swiss Guard from 2002 to 2008, said last year "a network of homosexuals" exists within the Vatican after a series of claims about homosexual priests working in the curia. “I cannot refute the claim that there is a network of homosexuals,” he said. “My experiences would indicate the existence of such a thing," he told the Swiss newspaper Schweiz am Sonntag.
Even demons are repulsed
In light of the latest scandal and the current situation, one former official urged readers to recall the warnings of the Lord on homosexual acts, especially between priests, as explained by St. Catherine of Siena in her Dialogues written as if dictated by God Himself.
The medieval mystic, co-patron of Rome and Doctor of the Church, relayed the words at a time when a number of clergy had fallen into grave sin.
Such priests, the Lord told St. Catherine, not only fail from resisting their fallen nature, “but do even worse as they commit the cursed sin against nature [homosexual acts].”
“Like the blind and stupid having dimmed the light of the understanding, they do not recognize the disease and misery in which they find themselves,” the Lord continued, adding that it not only causes God “nausea, but displeases even the demons themselves, whom these miserable creatures have chosen as their lords.”
He added that “this sin against nature is so abominable that, for it alone, five cities were submersed, by virtue of the judgement of My Divine Justice, which could no longer bear them.” The Lord told St. Catherine that even the demons are “repulsed upon seeing such an enormous sin being committed.”
As a remedy, St. Catherine recounted the Lord saying:
“Never cease offering me the incense of fragrant prayers for the salvation of souls, for I want to be merciful to the world. With your prayers and sweat and tears, I will wash the face of my bride, Holy Church. I showed her to you earlier as a maiden whose face was all dirtied as if she were a leper. The clergy and the whole of Christianity are to blame for this because of their sins, though they receive their nourishment at the breast of this bride.”