For more than a year now, there has been ample talk around Rome about a powerful gay lobby at work inside the Vatican. When Pope Benedict XVI resigned in February 2013, rumors were rampant that the alleged gay lobby was part of the reason he left the papacy. Apparently the gay lobby was so powerful it was given ample ink in a still-secret red-covered dossier presented to Benedict as part of a Vatileaks internal investigation after his butler was convicted of stealing his private papers.
The new Pope Francis even referred to the gay lobby at a June 6 meeting with Latin American prelates. “In the Curia there are holy people, truly holy people,” Francis reportedly told the Latin American delegation. “But there is also a current of corruption, also there is, it is true … They speak of a ‘gay lobby,’ and that is true, it is there.”
Fresh allegations now point to the lobby extending deep into the Swiss Guard, the pope’s elite protective security force, who are known for their striped yellow, red, orange and blue Renaissance uniforms. The elite troops are specially trained Swiss soldiers between the age of 19 and 30. The job pays around $1,000 a month and includes room and board. In 1998, an unknown guard apparently murdered a commander and the man’s wife in what many inside the Vatican suspected was a gay love triangle. The case remains a mystery and was the biggest scandal to rock the Swiss Guard. Until now.
In early January of this year, a former guard told Swiss newspaper Schweiz om Sonntag that he had been propositioned dozens of times by priests who lived and worked inside Vatican City. One, whom the unnamed guard said was particularly brazen, allegedly convinced the guard to join him for dinner only to tell him that he should be “served for dessert,” according to the Swiss paper. The former guard also told the Swiss paper he had been manhandled by various clergy who were trying to bed him.
As a follow-up to the story, Schweiz on Sonntag then interviewed Elmar Mader, a former commander who led the elite force from 2002 to 2008, who seconded the rumors, and went one step further, telling the paper that could not “refute the claim that there is a network of homosexuals” within the Swiss Guard itself. Mader even told the Swiss paper that he purposefully did not promote gay Swiss Guards out of fear that they would be disloyal. “I also learned that many homosexuals are inclined to be more loyal to each other than to other people or institutions. If this loyalty were to go so far as to become a network or even a kind of secret society, I would not tolerate it in my sphere of decision making. Key people in the Vatican now seem to agree.”
In the interview, Mader also claimed the Vatican was “like a magnet” for gays, who he said tend to be drawn to all-male environments. He also said that when he retired, he informed the liaison with the Holy See about his concerns of the growing “secret society” and that he feared it might put the pope at risk.
Mader’s comments raised the ire several high-ranking Vatican officials, who have invited the retired officer to come forward with names if he stands behind his allegations. The Vatican’s deputy Secretary of State, Archbishop Angelo Becciu, told Italy’s La Repubblica newspaper that he had challenged Mader to meet him. “If Elmar Mader wants to come and say exactly who he is referring to, I am here,” he told La Repubblica. “My office is open.
Pope Francis has not spoken out on the matter yet, but one of his newly named cardinals has angered gay rights groups when he called homosexuality a “bodily defect.” Fernando Sebastien, 84, who is slated to become a cardinal in Pope Francis’s first consistory on February 22, will likely not be invited to join the Vatican’s gay lobby. He told Spanish newspaper Diario Sur that, in most cases, homosexuality “can be cured with adequate treatment.” He then said he wasn’t against gay people, and that their “defect” was like his own high blood pressure, for which there was also a treatment.