Vatican Priest "pretending to be gay to uncover satanic plot"
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|A high-ranking Vatican priest has been suspended after a TV programme, using a hidden camera, recorded him making advances to a young man and asserting that gay sex was not sinful.|
Monsignor Tommaso Stenico, 60, is the director of one of the three departments that make up the Congregation for the Clergy, the Vatican “ministry” for the clergy.
Yesterday he claimed that he was pretending to be gay in an attempt to unmask a Satanic plot to seduce Catholic priests to homosexuality and thus discredit the Church. “I only pretended I was gay to study how priests are seduced,” said Mgr Stenico, a frequent guest on television programmes discussing religious issues. “There are people who go after them . . . I really believe there is a diabolical plan by groups of Satanists.”
Mgr Stenico admits inviting a man whom he met on a gay website to his office, across the piazza from Saint Peter’s Basilica, after expressing an attraction to sado-masochism. What he did not know was that the young man was working for a TV investigation on homosexuality among Catholic priests and went to the tryst with a concealed video camera. The footage was shown this month by La 7, the national TV channel.
It shows the young man entering the lift to Mgr Stenico’s office and then speaking with the priest in his office. The faces and voices are heavily disguised to respect privacy laws but with the help of subtitles the topics being discussed are obvious.
Mgr Stenico asks the man, “Do you like me?” and tells him that he is very good-looking. When the young man expresses fears that having sex would be “a sin in the eyes of the Church”, the priest replies: “I do not feel it would be sinful.” Drawn on the subject of sado-masochistic sex, the monsignor says that these are “inner choices, the psychological basis of a personality”. The young man continues to raise moral and religious objections to actually having sex, until the priest becomes irritated, says that he has no time left and takes him back to the lift. On parting, the Monsignor tells him that he is “really tasty” and that he can telephone him or send him a message.
The programme did not identify the priest but his superiors in the Vatican recognised the lift of the Congregation and his office.
Father Federico Lombardi, SJ, the Jesuit who is official spokesman for Pope Benedict XVI, said that Mgr Stenico had been suspended from office.
“Naturally the matter is being dealt with by his superiors with the reserve due to the person involved. But they must act with the decisiveness and severity warranted by behaviour that is incompatible with priestly service and with the Holy See.”