Hanging from a Thread, Vatican Sex Orgy Story Circles the Globe

I didn’t want to write this post.

For the past week, my inbox has been filled with stories from all over the globe and the internet about an alleged gay sex and drug orgy at the home of a prominent Vatican official.  Despite the multiplication of these stories, they are all based on one Italian newspaper article which is thin on evidence, and rests mainly on a single thread of rumor.

When the story made it into The Times of London, I thought there was probably more  substantial evidence supporting the allegation.  Alas, even The Times simply repeated the weakly supported evidence from the first story.

So, I debated all week whether to report and comment on this story here.  I finally felt that since many Bondings 2.0 readers have probably heard about it from other sources, I should probably say something.

My reluctance is not because I don’t think that such a story is possible.  Priests, bishops, cardinals are human, and experience human desires and frailty.  Like many people, they may not always make choices that work best at answering their needs or advancing their personal, professional, and ministerial goals.

So, is it possible that such an orgy happened? Yes, but not because it is a bizarre thing, but because it is a very human thing.  As I say that, I am not defending orgiastic behavior, but just noting that though we tend to think of it as beyond the pale of normality, I would daresay that every one of us has sometimes engaged in behavior which others might be shocked at hearing. And I’m not just talking about sexual behavior here, but the entire spectrum of human activity. Who among us doesn’t have something in our past that we would rather people do not know?

Not surprisingly, conservative Catholic news sites are using this thin story to criticize Pope Francis’ administration.  Similarly, many secular news sites are using it as a way to brand church leaders with hypocrisy on gay issues.

Another problem I have with this story is that as it gets spread, it seems to get bigger.  Headlines which originally noted that the accusations of misbehavior were alleged have morphed into headlines asserting the misbehavior as solid fact.  That is not honest journalism, and it is certainly not Christian behavior.

While I think that people’s curious minds are one thing that feeds the life and vitality of such a story, I think another factor here is the intense secrecy that surrounds both the Vatican and the sexuality of priests.

If church leaders were more honest and transparent about their decision-making, there would be less curiosity about the possibility of Vatican intrigue and surreptitious activity.

If Catholic clergy were more honest about their sexuality and acknowledged themselves more as sexual beings, people would wonder less about the possibility of sexual activity of men who vow celibacy.

Silence and secrecy are two strategies which seem to be favored by the Vatican and other high-ranking church leaders and institutions.  Unfortunately, these strategies do more harm to the church than help.  Simple honesty would clear up so much misunderstanding, and it would certainly stave off the expansion and multiplication of rumors.

And, of course, the end of silence and secrecy–especially around sexuality– would benefit so much more than the Church as an institution, but would greatly benefit all its members, too.

Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry, July 8, 2017

 

18 replies
  1. Thomas Ellison
    Thomas Ellison says:

    Good for you. Well said. But as the saying goes: ” Those who live in glass houses………………”

    Reply
  2. Linda Tomala
    Linda Tomala says:

    “Simple honesty would clear up so much misunderstanding…” This is the answer to so many of our current problems, especially health care. Could congress create a fair health bill that meets the needs of the people of this country. Could we citizens honestly evaluate what we need and just take our fair share and not “game” the system? Could the wealthy sacrifice for the poor because they can afford it? Could pharmaceutical companies make a good product for a fair price and profit? Could medical professionals serve and receive just reward for that service?

    Thank you for another wonderful article that keeps me informed and reflective.

    Reply
  3. bruce byrolly
    bruce byrolly says:

    Frank,

    I very respectfully suggest you stop even mentioning this story.

    Do that to protect yourself and to protect BONDINGS. It is not a matter of protecting either the Church or the Vatican.

    BONDINGS does so much good for the cause. Don’t risk that by unnecessary reporting.

    Bruce

    Reply
  4. Edward Poliandro
    Edward Poliandro says:

    Dear Frank, I congratulate you on your struggle to maintain the integrity of Christian morality and Gospel response while avoiding “tempting tweeting”, as has become a sad social practice.You inform us to what is going on , let us find our own news sources,and much more importantly ,address the systemic issues that perpetuate dysfunction.This is exactly where we need to be guided to continue a more relevant conversation. In this way the Holy Spirit can be invited to be amongst us to really do the work- and not in secret either. Once again, thank you! Ed

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

    Reply
  5. John Hilgeman
    John Hilgeman says:

    Frank, Thanks for this article. Until I read it, I didn’t realize that this story was based on thin evidence appearing in a single paper.

    Reply
  6. John Raab
    John Raab says:

    Thank you for dealing with the issue so well!

    Krzysztof Charamsa also pleaded for more honesty in the Church.

    ________________________________

    Reply
  7. Bishop Carlos A Florido, osf
    Bishop Carlos A Florido, osf says:

    As one who has spent time in Rome, that did not surprise me. On the other hand, it is not as common as some people believe.

    Reply
  8. Thomas Smith
    Thomas Smith says:

    Frank, I can understand your reluctance to give any air-time to this story. I appreciate you honesty though in parsing the complexity of the issue. Just as with Trump, people tend to believe what supports their prejudices. I tell my Deaf folks at church all the time that gossip is a sin. It separates us from each other and from God. Even if you know a story is true, it doesn’t give you the right to spread it mindlessly (never mind “she said” stuff).

    On a brighter note, Fr. Jim Martin will be literally in our neighborhood tomorrow at Sacrd Heart in South Plainfield. I am bringing a few Deaf gay Cathilics and we will interpret for them. Cardinal Tobin has been a wonderful sign of hope for us here in Jersey. The bridges are slowly being built.

    Be well.
    Tom

    Reply
  9. Frank
    Frank says:

    Thank you for your balanced and fine tuned understanding of this story. Many people would much prefer the honesty that you spoke about the story rather than the apparent allegations that went viral in the press.
    There are many who want to remove priests who are gay from ministry/priesthood but they have such a valuable gift to offer the church.

    Reply
  10. Michael Eberl
    Michael Eberl says:

    “So, is it possible that such an orgy happened? Yes, but not because it is a bizarre thing, but because it is a very human thing.” No big deal that a prelate is using an apartment in the Vatican to engage in an orgy with cocaine use? This priest is possibly headed straight to hell if he does not change his ways. If he overdosed and died with these mortal sins on his soul who know what his fate would be. This priest is totally lost and in need of prayers, not excuses.

    Reply

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