Frédéric Martel - In the Closet of the Vatican

From Saturday Morning, 10:09 am on 9 March 2019

According to a new book, the hypocrisy of the top echelon of the Catholic Church knows no bounds.

Frédéric Martel spent four years interviewing over 1500 people in thirty countries; including cardinals and bishops and apostolic nuncios, Swiss guards, priests and seminarians.

Pope Francis attends a service during the last day of a global child protection summit at the Vatican.

Pope Francis Photo: AFP

The resulting book is called In The Closet of the Vatican: Power, Homosexuality, Hypocrisy.

The book includes extensive interviews of leading figures, it looks at the cover up of countless cases of sexual abuse, the resignation of Benedict XVI, misogyny among the clergy, the dramatic fall in Europe of the number of vocations to the priesthood and the plotting against Pope Francis.

Martel is a journalist and author of several previous books about society and culture and he says the Vatican is one of the world's largest gay communities and that the fiercest denunciations of homosexuality come from closeted catholic clergy.

He says the reasons for why so many gay men are in the clergy pre-dates the sexual revolution.

"This is not about cardinal A, or bishop B, or priest C being homosexual; the book is about sociology, why the church identifies, recruits, attracts and promotes gay people and that's sociology.

"Basically when you are a young homosexual kid in a little place in Italy or in France or in New Zealand in the 40s the 50s or the 60s before sexual liberation and you discover you're gay - or even if you don't know you're gay that you are not attracted by girls, you don't want to marry them - you understand there is a problem.

"If you are in a little village, your life will be horrible, if you are in a bourgeois family your life will be basically the shame of the family, so becoming a priest was the solution."

The priesthood, he says, became a sanctuary and a route to respectability and consequently the church became essentially "a gay organisiation."

"Suddenly you came from pariah to a kind of saint."

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Photo: AFP / FILE

This closeted sexuality has warped, within the church, into a self-hate form of homosexuality, he says.

"[It is] A homosexuality that is repressed, a homosexuality that is hypocritical ….it is a self-hate homosexuality that is also a homophobia."

Another element in this toxic mix is secrecy.

"The church has created an extraordinary culture of secrecy about everything to do with the sexuality of priests, about homosexuality in the higher level of the Cardinal College and also many other abuses on nuns and women in the church."

This silence on abuse has often been for reasons of self-preservation, he says.

"The third element is that there are a lot of people, especially the bishops that protect the priests that abuse kids or some seminaries, a lot of them are themselves homosexual, and they are afraid when there is a scandal when there is an investigation or a trial that their own homosexuality might be discovered.

"And because they are so afraid they are terrified of being outed during a scandal that they prefer to protect the priest."

One of the "saddest cases in this sad book" Martel says, concerns the late Colombian cardinal Alfonso López Trujillo.

Trujillo was given the job of ridding Latin America of liberation theology and then launched a global crusade against homosexuality and the use of condoms.

Colombian Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo in 2005.

Colombian Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo in 2005. Photo: AFP / FILE

"This guy, who was a caricature of a homophobe, I discovered he was a homosexual himself, that he had a lot of sexual relations with seminarians and priests even sometimes with harassment and abuse. And in addition he used a lot of prostitutes, I can tell that very clearly because I met the priest that introduced him to the prostitutes," Martel says.

Martel says his secret was one well-known to the Cardinal's inner circle as it was in Rome.

"But he was the quintessence of the system and the big lie of Benedict XVI in his election as Pope."

Pope Benedict XVI, a deeply conservative pope, was "very naïve" according to Martel.

The former pontif's entourage was "very gay and actively gay" he says.

Pope Francis is aware of this secret, hidden gay culture, Martel says.

"Basically the story of the Pontificate is gay cardinals that are very homophobic that attack Pope Francis who is gay friendly and probably not gay himself."

This can be inferred from some of Francis' language, Martel says.

"They are against him on social issues, immigration, on the death penalty, on homosexuality and at the same time a lot of the opponents of the Pope are themselves gay.

"And the Pope explained that to us - all the time he speaks about these cardinals who are against him, but who are hypocritical, that have a double life he even used a sentence saying; 'The rigid that have a double life'."

This cohort of gay, conservative cardinals are at war with the Pope, Martel says.

"I began to discover how he was basically in a war with his opponents who organize a complot, a camarilla, a guerilla against this Pope and they are American, Mexican, they are also from Australia - and George Pell by the way was one of the opponents - they want the Pope fired."

Frédéric Martel (PhD) is a French writer and researcher. He is also a journalist at National Public Radio and the author of ten books, which have been translated and published in more than 25 countries.