A few days ago, there were several breathless reports that Mel Gibson’s father had claimed that Pope Benedict XVI, along with half the Vatican, were “homosexuals”. It turned out though, that these were old claims, made in a January radio interview which were totally unsupported by any evidence.
Allegations of widespread homosexuality among high ranking Vatican officials are not new though, nor are they surprising.
There are extensive credible claims that a significant proportion of Catholic priests are both gay and sexually active. After the recent Panorama story on three specific gay priests in Rome, Newsweek reported that openly gay priests and seminarians were common in Rome, possibly constituting a majority. It would be surprising if this were entirely restricted to the lowest ranks. Mark Jordan (“The Silence of Sodom” has claimed that the Vatican press corps have extensive information on the sexual habits, preferences and partners of many Vatican officials, and the conservative Catholic group “Tradition in Action” claim that ever since the papacies of the (allegedly) gay popes John Paul I and Paul VI, the Vatican has been in the grip of a “homosexual mafia”. They argue that this is the reason for the strong counter-offensive by the CDF, under John Paul II. (Remember that the harshest documents against homosexuality were issued under JPII). James Alison has claimed that Cardinal Ratzinger did not write the document he signed, but succeeded in toning down a document written by others and supported by the then pope. If he and Tradition in Action are both correct, this places an intriguing new light on the relative silence on the subject since Cardinal Ratzinger became Pope Benedict XVI – especially if there is substances to the rumours that he, or his close associates, have homosexual interests.
Specific allegations about “Pope Benedict” and homosexuality, incidentally, are emphatically not new. They go back a long way – almost a thousand years, in fact, to Pope Benedict IX, who has been described as “the first primarily homosexual pope.” (How many before him were “partly” homosexual?). Since then, there have been several other homosexual popes, and more who lavished patronage on homosexual artists and homoerotic artworks for the Vatican. There will surely be many still to come – at least, for as long as the institution of the papacy survives.