Collared

A Gay Sex Harassment Case Gives a Glimpse of Vatican Orgies

The alleged victim of a horny cleric in southern Italy takes him to court, and (once again) blows the lid off sexual corruption in the Catholic Church.

04.10.15 10:00 AM ET

If only there was an online hookup site especially for gay priests, perhaps it could save the Vatican some of the embarrassment that comes when celibacy-challenged prelates start snooping around for some action.  Instead, we are reminded once again about the secret desires of the not-really-so-chaste.

The latest awkward moment for the Catholic Church came this week when the archbishop of Taranto in the southern Italian province of Puglia dismissed Father Antonio Calvieri, a priest in his 50s who worked at the monastery of the local Carmelite order. Calvieri is the subject of a sexual harassment charge and lawsuit by Andrea Baldon, a 32-year-old man the priest apparently had set his sights on. According to court documents filed in Taranto, Baldon is seeking unspecified damages against Calvieri as well as the church of the Santissimo Crocefisso after apparent aggressive sexual harassment.

Baldon, who met Calvieri online when he was seeking spiritual guidance, gave the court photos including screenshots of the priest, Facebook messages, and chat messages the two exchanged. There are also reportedly hard-core videos of Calvieri with other men assumed to be priests and in solo acts, according to local press reports. 

In one message, Calvieri allegedly asks Baldon if he knows any young 17-year-old men who are “thin and well endowed.” He also allegedly promised Baldon orgies with Swiss Guards and Roman priests, which is apparently the pinnacle when it comes to priestly peccadilloes.

In his lengthy court deposition, reprinted in part by Corriere Della Sera, Baldon says that on more than one occasion, he engaged in Skype calls with Calvieri, intending to seek spiritual comfort after he lost his job as a manual laborer. Often the priest was nude and visibly excited with the camera angled in such a way that suggested he wanted Baldon to notice.

A few weeks after they met, Baldon said the priest confessed that he was gay and that he had a difficult time stifling his desires. That, according to Baldon, is when he started taking screenshots and recording some of the conversations.

In one video, Calvieri apparently talks about his fantasies, in which he says he would like Baldon to dress like Catholic bad boy Judas Iscariot, one of the original 12 apostles who famously betrayed Jesus. “He wanted me to do everything,” Baldon said, according to Corriere Della Sera in its excerpts of the court document. “His fantasy was that I was Judas Iscariot and, since I had betrayed Jesus, I had to pay the price by becoming his slave.”

Calvieri also apparently told Baldon stories about gay orgies among priests in Rome, including many who worked in the Curia, echoing previous accusations about a gay lobby in the heart of the Holy See. Last June, Pope Francis told a group of Latin American priests that such a lobby exists and that he intended to dismantle it. “They speak of a ‘gay lobby,’ and that is true, it is there,” he told the priests, according to the Chilean website “Reflexión y Liberación” (in a post which has since been taken down).

When Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI announced his resignation in February 2013, many Vatican insiders hinted that it was because of gay sex scandals.

According to local press reports in Puglia, the case against the priest includes evidence of sex for hire with young male prostitutes, intimate photos, and what appears to be a list of priests interested in similar encounters that is passed around like a little black book for anyone who might be interested in gay sex with priests. 

The diocese of Taranto confirmed to The Daily Beast that a priest was let go, but would not comment on the allegations. A lawyer representing the diocese would not comment on the case. A Vatican spokesperson said the matter was being handled on a local level and not by Rome.

Baldon told local reporters that he suffered psychological damage from the encounter with the priest, and is in counseling as he tries to come to terms with what he feels is a betrayal of his faith. The two met in mid-December and Baldon said he terminated the relationship with the priest on March 25, when he filed the court document. The archbiship of Taranto officially let Calvieri go on Easter Monday. Calvieri gets to keep his collar because only the Vatican can order him defrocked, and the errant priest could seek work in another diocese.