Padres Gone Wild :: Video Released of Gay Priests Getting Their Freak On

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Monday July 26, 2010

Last week, an Italian publication promised video footage of homosexual priests meeting and mixing with other patrons of gay bars. Now that footage has reached YouTube.

Panorama magazine reported on the gay priests in an article written by reporter Carmelo Abbate, who--together with a gay man--went out looking to expose the "double lives" led by some of the Catholic Church's clerics.

Abbate and his associate spent two weeks at gay nightspots, during which time they managed to capture video of three priests involved in sexual trysts. Two of the priests caught on video were reportedly Italian; one was French.

The sensational claims made by the magazine included an allegation that one of the three priests not only had sex with the reporter's "gay accomplice," but that the priest also donned his ceremonial vestments for the encounter, at the request of the reporter's associate. That encounter, the magazine claimed, was caught on video by a hidden camera.

Panorama Magazine is one the holdings of Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. The former editor of Catholic newspaper Avvenire stepped down last year after a series of explosive articles in Italian newspaper Il Giornale, also owned by Berlusconi, that purported to "out" him as gay.

The subject of those articles, Dino Boffo, had previously criticized Berlusconi, then 71, who reportedly had frolicked with expensive prostitutes and teenaged girls and attended a party for a young negligee model.

The Irish Times reported on the Panorama article and its aftermath in a July 24 story, summarizing the Italian magazine's article. The Irish Times account says that one priest, referred to as "Paul," spent the night with the reporter's gay associate, and that video evidence of the tryst was caught on camera; two other priests were also photographed in compromising circumstances, one referred to by the name "Carlo" and one dubbed "Luca."

According to Carlo, "Ninety-eight percent" of the priests with whom he was acquainted were gay. That number may be an exaggeration, but it has been noted elsewhere that some harbor concerns that the priesthood has become a de fact "gay profession." The Vatican has sought to root out gays from among prospective clerics, and has issued instructions to American seminaries that no men with "deep-seated homosexual tendencies" are to be allowed.

Although research indicates that more than 90% of pedophiles identify as heterosexual, the Vatican has pronounced gay seminarians and clergy as suspect. All priests are expected to be celibate, but the Vatican has targeted gays for screening and seminaries in the United States are excluding gays under the rubric of screening out future "molesters." The church has defended its anti-gay measures by saying that the offending priests often targeted male adolescents, rather than children; critics note that the majority of victims having been teenaged boys may have been more a function of exactly which prospective victims priest had unsupervised access to.

The questions put to seminarian candidates also ask about the candidates' relationships with their parents, their sexual fantasies, the reasons for failed romantic relationships, and ask whether the person being subjected to the questions "likes children." Potential seminarians are also subjected to medical tests (such as testing for HIV) and psychological evaluations designed to determine whether candidates might be transgendered--or depressed. The screening process arose from a 2008 Vatican directive that said that, "It is not enough to be sure that [a seminarian] is capable of abstaining from genital activity. It is also necessary to evaluate his sexual orientation."

The Irish Times cited an official of the Italian group Certain Rights, Sergio Rovasio, who said the presence of many gay priests in nightspots frequented by homosexuals was an open secret. "Finally, a piece of investigative journalism which documents something which anyone who frequents gay spots in Rome knows only too well," said Rovasio, "namely, there are a lot of priests who attend these places and who have sexual encounters without seeming to be minimally worried by the evident hypocrisy of what they preach by day and what they do by night."

The Vatican's response has been muted, with one official--Cardinal Agostino Vallini--exhorting gay priests to out themselves and leave the church--or, as noted by GLBT American site Queerty on July 24, "The Vatican's response? Get the gays out of here.

"While the Vatican's predictable reaction is to blame the report and not its own culture--the magazine is out to 'defame' the church, apparently--it remains to be seen whether, behind the scenes, they'll work to actually remove any priests they suspect or know to be gay," Queerty continued, going on to note that any comprehensive push to purge the church of gay priests could, possibly, result in the decimation of the clerical ranks.

Church officials have issued a string of proclamations about gays in recent years, saying that they are "disordered," and that they should lead celibate lives. The church has campaigned tirelessly against legal parity for gay and lesbian families, and asserted that gay and lesbian parents inflict "violence" on their children simply by raising them in households with two parents of the same gender. Church officials have also claimed that gay sex is "inherently evil," although the church holds that gays do not "choose" their sexual orientation.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.

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