A retired commander of the Swiss Guard slammed the Vatican over the weekend, telling Swiss weekly Schweiz am Sonntag that rumors of a cabal of gay clergy are true, and a threat to the security of the pope.
Elmar Mäder was the 32nd commandant of the elite Swiss unit charged with defending Vatican City for centuries, serving in that position from 2002 to 2008.
“I cannot refute the claim that there is a network of homosexuals,” Mäder told the paper, the U.K.’s Guardian reports.
“My experiences confirm its existence. A place where a majority of unmarried men work … is an attraction for homosexuals as it would be for pedophiles near schools and sports clubs. The Roman Curia is exactly this kind of environment,” he explained, Life Site News reports.
The Catholic Church is hitting back, though, questioning both the timing of the accusations (based on Pope Francis’s global outreach, including to gays) and the lack of specifics.
Vatican Substitute for General affairs Archbishop Angelo Becciu challenged Monday, “My office is open. If Elmar Mäder wants to come and say exactly whom he’s referring to, I’m here.”
In February 2013, Italian newspaper La Repubblica reported that the discovery of a powerful gay lobby inside the Vatican had weighed heavily on Pope Benedict XVI’s historic decision to resign the papacy. Benedict had commission a report, The Irish Times reported, after a series of leaks from the Vatican. “The report, written by a trio of cardinals, concluded that ‘various lobbies within the Holy See were consistently breaking’ the sixth and seventh commandments, ‘thou shalt not commit adultery’ and ‘thou shalt not steal,'” The Huffington Post reports.
“I also learned that many homosexuals are inclined to be more loyal to each other than to other people or institutions,” Mäder told the Swiss paper. “If this loyalty were to go as far as to become a network or even a kind of secret society, I would not tolerate it in my sphere of decision making. Key people in the Vatican now seem to think similarly.”
In response to the former commandant’s charges, Becciu told La Repubblica, “Once again we speak of the existence of a ‘gay lobby’ in the Vatican, but as has happened other times, you do not name names or surnames. Too easy to do.”
“When he was in the service, he had suspicions? These suspects are still present? He argues that this is ongoing? Okay, come here and tell us exactly to whom it relates. We are willing to listen and take note. Pope Francis first wants clarity and truth, and so do we all.”
In June, Pope Francis acknowledged rumors of a “gay lobby” publicly for the first time, saying, “In the Curia, there are also holy people, really, there are holy people. But there also is a stream of corruption, there is that as well, it is true… ‘The gay lobby’ is mentioned, and it is true, it is there… We need to see what we can do.”