Before Pope Benedict XVI resigned and before Pope Francis I became the first Jesuit pope in the history of the Catholic Church, I published a fiction thriller, Archangels: Rise of the Jesuits. The Jesuits reject the church's financial and sexual corruption, blackmail the pope with secret documents, and take control of the Vatican to reform the church. It's a fiction murder mystery, but it is also includes history and well-researched facts.
In my novel, the Jesuits insist that all priests in the Catholic Church--whether they are homosexual or heterosexual--must reaffirm their vows of celibacy. A very small part of the plot references an affair between consenting adult priests. Both ceased the affair and renewed their vows.
One reviewer of Catholic books read an advance copy and wrote me: "...I got to the part where [a priest] explains his affair with [another priest]...I cannot possubly [sic] do a review of a book that includes a homosexual affair between two priests...." Murder and embezzlement -- including true crimes -- apparently didn't bother this reviewer, but the mention (in passing) of the adult affair did.
Heterosexuals, Homosexuals, and (a Separate Issue) Predatory Pedophiles
Catholics acknowledge that priests have had mistresses. The Borgias is Showtime's historical fiction series about the conspiracies and love affairs of the famous family led by Pope Alexander VI. It's part of documented church history that even popes have had mistresses.
Many Catholics refuse to acknowledge that homosexual men that are not pedophiles are a part of the priesthood, and some of them have affairs with each other. In the early 11th century, Pope Urban II knew Archbishop Ralph of Tours pulled strings so that his lover would be made the Bishop of Orléans. This means they broke their vows of celibacy, just as Pope Alexander VI did. Today, gay priests are part of the top leadership in the Vatican. (Note: I use celibacy here to emphasize that unlike Greek Orthodox priests, Catholic priests take a vow to remain unmarried and to abstain from sexual intercourse, a concomitant vow of chastity.)
Most heterosexual and homosexual men do not prey on children. Today's newspapers remind Catholics of sexual exploitation of children by priests. That applies to both heterosexuals and homosexuals. MSNBC's To Catch a Predator is chiefly about heterosexual men preying on underage girls, so it's important to recognize that this is a problem with some adults of both sexual persuasions, and it is wrong to tar all adults with the same brush.
Most reports of pedophilia in the church have involved boys. It illustrates the access, opportunity, and cover-ups enabled by the Catholic Church in the past.
Intrigue and Scandal
The new Jesuit Pope seems committed to cleaning up the Vatican's financial scandals and has mentioned a "gay lobby" in the Curia, the church's controlling bureaucracy. According to CNN, he publicly stated:
"There are holy people. But there is also a stream of corruption."
"The 'gay lobby' is mentioned, and it is true, it is there. We need to see what we can do."
Before he was elected on March 13, Pope Francis I was Argentina's Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio. He is the first pope from the Americas. He's the first pope to choose the name in honor of the humble and poor Francis of Assisi. He's the first Jesuit pope. Pope Francis heads the church and the Vatican, but he doesn't control all the levers of power. He's the first pope that I know of to openly defy the Vatican's power structure.
When Pope Benedict XVI, 85, resigned, the church was in the grips of financial money laundering and sexual scandals. The scandals predated his reign, and they continued throughout his reign. In Rome, male prostitutes attempted to blackmail gay priests, and Pope Benedict XVI received a 300 page report on it in December. The pope's former butler became the center of the "Vatileaks" scandal, after he handed sensational papal documents to an Italian journalist.
Within a couple of months, Cardinal Keith O'Brien was embarrassed by an article in the Observer written by Catherine Deveney. O'Brien had been the archbishop of St. Andrews and Edinburgh and a detractor of homosexuals and the general idea of gay marriage. Deveney broke the news that the papal nuncio had just taken sworn signed statements from priests alleging O'Brien made inappropriate sexual advances from his position of authority.
O'Brien left the church under a cloud of allegations including a huge dollop of hypocrisy. Less than three days later, on February 11, Pope Benedict XVI resigned.
What is the "Gay Lobby?"
There has been a debate in the Catholic Church on whether or not gay men should be ordained. It's a silly debate, because many gay men have already been ordained. Many will be ordained this year. The debate should center around whether or not priests should be celibate, or whether marriage for priests should be allowed. I don't believe Pope Francis I was referring to the fact of gay priests or to this debate when he made his public remarks.
I believe this is what Pope Francis meant when he said gay lobby: A subset of gay priests have flouted the rule of celibacy, abused their positions of power, acted as an "except-from-the-rules-class" within the church, and used their connections to bully other priests into silence.
The problem with covering up one kind of secret is that it tends to lead to covering up other secrets. When people have the goods on each other, it makes it hard to speak out. While most homosexual and heterosexual priests aren't pedophiles, many have assisted in the cover-ups for pedophiles. Many also assisted in the cover-up of money laundering and financial scandals.
Pope Francis I: The Simple Truth
Pope Francis' comments are treated as if they are a bombshell. Yet nothing about his comments is new. The only shocking element of his statements is that he spoke the truth out loud and in public to the global community of Catholics.
Pope Francis I explained the reality of the Vatican power structure, and if he is allowed to live long enough, it seems he means to change it.
Endnote: For more blogs on this topic, click here. Archangels: Rise of the Jesuits is available via Amazon in the following countries: United States, United Kingdom, Italy, France, Spain, Japan, Germany and India."When Control of the Vatican is at Stake, Money Talks and Nobody Plays Fair."