Pope Francis confirmed the existence of a "gay lobby" inside the Vatican in private remarks to a conference of Latin American church leaders last Thursday, reports the Associated Press.
This appears to be the pope's first direct reference to previously unconfirmed reports of a blackmail scheme targeting gay priests inside the Vatican, which first emerged in February as Pope Benedict XVI announced his resignation. That month, Italian newspaper La Repubblica published a report exposing a network of gay prelates within the Vatican, which may have influenced Pope Benedict's decision to step down from his post as the leader of the Roman Catholic Church.
The remarks were intended to be private, but a written summary of the pope's commentary was presented to the AP, and the Latin American and Caribbean Confederation of Religious confirmed that leaders from within its organization wrote the summary, while also noting that it was not a direct transcript of Francis's statements. A spokesman for the Vatican declined to comment on the report, saying the audience was private.
That document summarizes Pope Francis saying that while there are many holy people in the Vatican, substantial corruption also exists. "The 'gay lobby' is mentioned, and it is true, it is there," said the pope, according to the summary reviewed by AP. "We need to see what we can do."
The AP also reports that Benedict left a copy of a scathing report revealing rampant violations within the Holy See for Pope Francis to review when the former stepped down in February.
Pope Benedict received a massive internal report presented by three cardinals in December. He ordered the report after the arrest and conviction of the pope's butler, Paolo Gabriele, who was found guilty of confiscating documents from the papal apartment. The report said that several factions within the Vatican were breaking commandments, including the sixth (thou shalt not steal) and the seventh (thou shalt not commit adultery). The thedt mentioned was in reference to mismanagement at the Vatican Bank, IOR, and the sixth commandment is often referenced when speaking of homosexuality.
According to the report, the alleged gay network convened in a handful of locations in and around Rome, including a sauna, a beauty parlor, university housing being used by a provincial Italian archbishop, and a villa.