A Lavender Mafia Within the Vatican? A Post from 2013 Reposted


What follows is a post first put up on 6 March 2013. I repost it now because of its pertinence to the current crisis in the Roman Catholic Church. At least some of the links are still functional. I particularly recommend your reading the letters of Father Gerald Fitzgerald.

Some weeks after Pope Benedict XVI announced his resignation, the Italian press went wild, reporting that his decision had been prompted by his receipt of a report issued by a commission of three Cardinals whom he had asked to investigate the so-called Vatileaks affair. That report, we were told, revealed the existence within the Curia of a network of sexually active homosexual prelates who were being blackmailed by outsiders.That such a commission was appointed and that it issued a report is true. The members were Julián Herranz of Spain, Salvatore De Giorgi of Italy, and Jozef Tomko, from Slovakia. Initially, the Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi refused to comment on the contents of the report. Later, however, he denied that the press account was correct.Soon thereafter, The Observer in Britain reported that three serving priests and a former priest had lodged a formal complaint with the Papal Nuncio in Britain, charging Keith O’Brien, Cardinal-Archbishop of St. Andrews and Edinburgh and Primate of the Catholic Church in Scotland, with having tried, in some cases successfully, to take advantage of them sexually some 30 years ago when he was spiritual director in a seminary and after he became a bishop. It was later revealed that last year another priest had made similar allegations about O’Brien’s conduct 11 years before. Soon after these revelations, O’Brien was forced to resign from his post. At first, he denied the truth of the charges. Later, he confessed his guilt.If Cardinal O’Brien’s misconduct were an isolated case, I would be inclined to believe Father Lombardi’s dismissal of the reports in the Italian press. A close friend who knows the Vatican very well indeed suspects that the focus of the report issued by the three Cardinals is graft. “In Italy,” as he put it, “theft is a way of life.”

It would not, however, be surprising were there blackmail involved as well. It is not as if there have not, in recent years, been examples of homoerotically inclined prelates in the United States being blackmailed by former sexual partners, and it is a reasonable guess that there has been a lot more of this sort of thing going on than we know even now. The world of the Catholic clergy is a secretive world governed by a code of silence. Cardinal O’Brien’s misconduct escaped public notice for more than thirty years.

Sometime in the 1980s, I became aware that some of the Catholic seminaries in this country were little better than brothels. I read no public reports, but I heard stories. The diocesan seminary at Catholic University in Washington, DC was notorious. In the late 1990s, I had a conversation with a leading Catholic layman that brought home to me how deep the rot went. He knew a priest who, upon being named to head a diocesan seminary, discovered that chastity was not there the norm. He made an appointment to see the Bishop of the diocese for the purpose of informing him of the problem, and he asked permission to weed out those who were sexually active. “If we do not do this now,” he reportedly said, “there will be terrible trouble when these young men are unleashed on the diocese.” The Bishop replied that he wanted nothing done. “I want numbers,” he said, and numbers he got. Not long after I had this conversation, this particular Bishop became an Archbishop, and soon thereafter he was named a Cardinal. The diocese he left behind has been a cesspool ever since.

It is against this background that the scandals of recent years become explicable. Much has been written about pedophile priests. But the truth is that, in the priesthood, genuine pedophiles were and are exceedingly rare. As the report commissioned by the American hierarchy some years back revealed, the vast majority of the victims were not pre-pubescent children. They were adolescent boys. Pedophilia was not a plague; pederasty of the sort common in classical Greece was. The seminaries were churning out a generation of sexually active, homoerotically inclined priests. Like many a heterosexual, some of these men found young people in the bloom of youth highly attractive. And the bishops – many of whom had strayed in their younger days – did not regard with great horror what these priests were doing.

I have long thought that the sexual revolution of the late 1960s had engendered a crisis within the Roman Catholic clergy. There had always been priests who were homoerotically inclined. In times past, the priesthood offered men who were not at all attracted to women a place of respect and responsibility within the community. As long as chastity was the norm, I reasoned, it was relatively easy for them to observe the vow of celibacy. Once, however, chastity ceased to be the norm in the larger society, their situation became more difficult.

I still suspect that there is a lot to this analysis. But I recently became aware that the problem was serious long before the late 1960s. In Jemez Springs, New Mexico, there once existed a Monastery of the Servants of the Paraclete named Via Coeli. From 1947 to 1968, Father Gerald Fitzgerald, who had founded the order, was the order’s Father General. In those days, the Catholic hierarchy sent wayward priests to this monastery for treatment. Most of these men had drinking problems, but, even then, there were priests who abused children and adolescents, and, over time, Father Fitzgerald came to believe that these men were incurable and that they should never be allowed to get near children again.

There is online a dossier including some of the letters that Father Fitzgerald wrote in the 1950s and 1960s. If you want to come to grips with what has happened in recent years, you should read them – all of them. On 12 September 1952, for example, Father Fitzgerald writes to the Bishop of Reno, Nevada about one such priest:

His record here was one of conformity to the rule and cooperation yet with no marked indication of fervor or penitential zeal. We find it quite common, almost universal with the handful of men we have seen in the last five years who have been under similar charges – we find it universal that they seem to be lacking in appreciation of the serious situation. As a class they expect to bound back like tennis balls on to the court of priestly activity. I myself would be inclined to favor laicization for any priest, upon objective evidence, for tampering with the virtue of the young. My argument being, from this point onward the charity to the Mystical Body should take precedence over charity to the individual and when a man has so far fallen away from the purpose of the priesthood the very best that should be offered is his Mass in the seclusion of a monastery. Moreover, in practice, real conversions will be found to be extremely rare. Many bishops believe men are never free from the approximate danger once they have begun. Hence leaving them on duty or wandering from diocese to diocese is contributing to scandal or at least to the approximate danger of scandal.

Five years later, he wrote to an Archbishop in a similar vein, describing those “who have seduced or attempted to seduce little boys or girls” as “devils” and “a class of rattlesnake,” and he suggested that they be confined to an isolated island. One letter, written on 10 September 1964, shows that Father Fitzgerald had expressed these concerns directly to Pope Paul VI in an audience.

In that same letter, Father Fitzgerald alludes to another difficulty he has encountered that bears on the reports in the Italian press:

When I was ordained forty-three years ago, homosexuality was a practically unknown rarity. Today, it is – in the wake of World War II – rampant among men. And whereas seventeen years ago, eight out of ten problems here would represent the alcoholic, now in the last year or so our admission ratio would be approximately 5-2-3: five being alcoholics; two would be what we call “heart cases” (natural affection towards women); and three representing aberrations involving homosexuality. More alarming still is that among these of the 3 out of 10 class 2 out of 3 have been young priests.I mention this because it would seem in America at least this type of problem is more devastating to the good standing of the priesthood than anything else. It is very infectious and the prognosis for recovery extremely unfavorable. The majority of psychiatrists, physicians, and experienced priests are not sanguine of permanent recovery. Therefore, it would seem that more careful screening – especially the study of family background and personal motivation – is definitely in order.

Bishop, do not quote me because this is given you in strictest confidence, but we know of several seminaries that have been deeply infected and this of course leads to a wide infection. Therefore there should be a very strict discipline of dismissal and a very clear and printed teaching in the moral theology course that mutual masturbation is a mortal sin. Priests develop a blind spot on this matter which in my opinion involves very likely the fixation of impenitence. Seldom will you find these men evidencing consciousness of the gravity of what they have done. And this apparently is represented in the strange attitude of Bishops who place these men after reactivation in assignments where they are most exposed to a recurrence of a vicious habit which the majority of experts would consider practically incurable.

Decades before I became aware of what was happening in some of the seminaries, the problem had already appeared. It did not emerge as a response to the sexual revolution. It was already there, and the advice offered by Father Fitzgerald, who was removed from his post in 1968, was not taken.

The scandals that have rocked the Roman Catholic Church in the United States and elsewhere have deep roots. Things no doubt got worse in the 1970s, 1980s, and early 1990s. But they have been bad for more than half a century. Scotland’s Cardinal O’Brien may not be typical, but his is by no means an isolated case. I would not be surprised were we to discover that the reports in the Italian press are more accurate than the Vatican spokesman has led us to believe. The next Pope will have a great deal of housecleaning to do.

As we now know, that housecleaning did not take place. Instead, as I detailed in a recent post entitled Prelates and Pederasts, Pope Francis took as his principal advisers, especially with regard to the selection of bishops and cardinals, the very men who he should have removed from positions of influence.

Published in Religion & Philosophy
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  1. Joe Escalante Contributor
    Joe Escalante

    Thank you for posting. It’s a mess.

    • #1
  2. Scott Wilmot Member
    Scott Wilmot

    Paul A. Rahe: The next Pope will have a great deal of housecleaning to do.

    I came into full communion with the Church in October of 2014. I have Polish ancestry so I was very fond of Pope John Paul II. Yet I have always considered Pope Benedict XVI “my pope”. I loved the clarity with which he wrote and spoke. His resignation devastated me. I had feelings of what it must be like when a child is abandoned by his father. I hate to say this, but Pope Benedict XVI abandoned us. We were orphaned and the “Lavender Mafia” put in their handpicked man, Pope Francis. It has only gotten worse from that day.

    We are still orphaned. We did not get a Holy Father who wanted to do any housecleaning, as you have written.

    Fr. Jerry Pokorsky writes today about Pope Francis at The Catholic Thing:

    “The Holy Father has left us orphans.  He prefers to protect . . . buddies rather than His bride the Church (in direct opposition to Christ laying down his life for the Church).  Francis is the ultimate symbol of the crisis of masculinity in the West.  He is neither father nor husband.”

    I am so tired of this pontificate. Pope Francis is making himself irrelevant. He chooses to remain silent. And I choose to no longer listen to anything he says. I’ll wait for a new Pope and keep doing all I can to make sure we, the laity get this mess cleaned up.

    ¡Hagan lío!

    • #2
  3. Dr. Bastiat Member
    Dr. Bastiat

    What bothers me the most about this is that this is not a few bad decisions made by a couple priests who had too much to drink one night.  This has been an ongoing pattern of behavior among many priests for many years.

    The real problem with that, in my view, is that no one who really believes that there is a real God who is going to judge their behavior would behave in this way.  If they really believed that pressuring an altar boy for sex could lead them to eternal damnation, then they simply would not do that.  If they even suspected that there might be a real God, they just wouldn’t take the chance.  Eternal damnation is worse that 3-5 years in prison.  They just wouldn’t chance it.

    Which means, therefore, that the Catholic Church has a significant percentage of its priests who simply do not believe in God.  Who don’t even believe that God might possibly exist.

    That is a more serious problem than any legal issues the Catholic Church may face.

    • #3
  4. Boot To The Head Inactive
    Boot To The Head

    • #4
  5. Boot To The Head Inactive
    Boot To The Head

    • #5
  6. Boot To The Head Inactive
    Boot To The Head

    • #6
  7. Dr. Bastiat Member
    Dr. Bastiat

    Where is Pope Benedict?  Surely he has something to say regarding the current state of the Catholic Church?  Many Christians respect and trust him more than our current Pope.  I would value his perspective immensely.  

    • #7
  8. Boot To The Head Inactive
    Boot To The Head

    • #8
  9. Boot To The Head Inactive
    Boot To The Head

    • #9
  10. Scott Wilmot Member
    Scott Wilmot

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):
    Where is Pope Benedict?

    I agree with you – where is his voice – we desperately need it.

    As my comment suggested – I love Pope Benedict XVI, yet he abandoned me as a father. I need his voice of reason. He still dresses in white. He still retains the title of Pope Emeritus. As with the 5 years of Francis, this is all very confusing. 

    Talk to us Fr. Ratzinger. We need your clear voice.

    • #10
  11. Boot To The Head Inactive
    Boot To The Head

    Boot To The Head (View Comment):

    This may be the documentary referred to available on Amazon:


    • #11
  12. Lash LaRoche Inactive
    Lash LaRoche

    There’s also a Chuck Norris movie called Code of Silence.

    • #12
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