Catholic priests in 'gay sex' furore

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By NICK PISA THE DAILY TELEGRAPH
  • Published 25.07.10
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July 24: The Catholic Church in Italy was embroiled in a fresh scandal yesterday when photographs apparently showing homosexual priests attending gay nightclubs and engaging in casual sex were published in a magazine.

A journalist from Panorama, a conservative weekly news magazine owned by Silvio Berlusconi, the Italian Prime Minister, used a hidden camera to film interviews with three gay priests, who introduced the journalist to the gay clubs they apparently frequent, and allowed the journalist to film their sexual encounters with strangers, including one in a church building.

One of the priests, a Frenchman identified only as Paul, celebrated Mass in the morning before driving the two escorts he had hired to attend a party the night before to the airport, Panorama said.

The Catholic Church in Italy, still reeling from the paedophile priest scandal, responded yesterday by ordering homosexual priests who are leading a double life to come out of the closet and leave the priesthood.

In a statement yesterday, the Rome diocese insisted that the vast majority of Rome’s 1,300 priests were truthful to their vocations and were “models of morality for all”.

The Vatican did not comment on the Panorama investigation, but a senior source said: “This is the usual silly season rubbish to attract readers during the quiet summer months.

“There is no proof that the people involved are from the clergy.”

A preview of the article sent out by Panorama said: “By day they are regular priests, complete with dog collar, but at night, it’s off with the cassock as they take their place as perfectly integrated members of the Italian capital’s gay scene.”

Panorama described its investigation as “deeply disturbing” as it detailed how the priests — two Italians and a Frenchman — happily took part in gay events and had casual sex.

The Catholic Church insists on celibacy for priests and sees homosexuality as a sin. In 2008 the Vatican issued guidelines which said that any would-be trainees should not join if they had “deep-seated homosexual tendencies”.

Panorama editor Giorgio Mule said: “This was a two week investigation and was not aimed at creating a scandal but showing that a certain section of the clergy behaves very differently.”