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June 11th, 2013
01:35 PM ET

Pope Francis: `Gay lobby' exists inside Vatican

By Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

(CNN) - Pope Francis said a “gay lobby” exists inside the Vatican, a surprising disclosure from a pope who has already delivered his share of stunners, and a resurrection of church conflicts that had bedeviled his predecessor's papacy.

“In the Curia,” Francis said, referring to Catholicism’s central bureaucracy, “there are holy people. But there is also a stream of corruption.”

“The 'gay lobby' is mentioned, and it is true, it is there,” Francis continued. “We need to see what we can do.”

READ MORE: The pope said what? Six stunners from Francis

Hints that the Holy See contained a network of gay clergy surfaced last year in reports about a series of embarrassing leaks to Italian journalists.

The "Vatileaks" scandal factored in Pope Emeritus Benedict XIV's shocking decision to resign earlier this year, according to some church experts, as it impressed upon the 86-year-old pontiff that the modern papacy requires a vigorous and watchful presence.

Francis' enigmatic comments came during a meeting Sunday with CLAR, the Latin American and Caribbean Confederation of Religious Men and Women, who head Catholic communities of priests, sisters and monks.

The Chilean website Reflection and Liberation, which focuses on Catholic theology, first reported Francis’ remarks. The Catholic blog Rorate Caeli translated the report into English.

A Vatican spokesman told CNN, "The Holy See Press Office has no official comment on the private meeting."

Gay and lesbian Catholic groups did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests said, "structure, not sexuality, is the real issue."

"The church is a monarchy. Monarchs are unaccountable. So many monarchs are corrupt. This is true in both secular and religious institutions," SNAP said in a statement.

Other Catholics counseled caution about reading too much into the pope's remarks.

"We don't have any explanation of what 'gay lobby' means," said Rocco Palmo, a Vatican watcher who runs Whispers in the Loggia, a website on Catholic news and church politics.

"Naturally, some in the church will try to polarize or interpret this, but as the rest of us aren't pope, we still have to get further explanation," Palmo added.

Church experts say the Chilean report rings true since the wide-ranging conversation centers on concerns that Francis has made touchstones of his nascent papacy.

In contrast to the buttoned-up Benedict, Francis has earned an early reputation for speaking off the cuff, often ditching prepared remarks in favor of more informal conversations.

On Friday, Francis nixed his “boring” speech and instead took questions from young Catholic students. Asked by a little girl if he wanted to be pope, Francis laughed and said that only someone who “doesn’t love himself” would want the position.

Last month, the pope sparked a worldwide debate by suggesting that atheists might be able to earn a spot in heaven.

"He has said some things that would turn Benedict whiter than the papal vestments," Palmo joked.

Francis told the Catholic leaders on Sunday to focus on the poor, that the Vatican must be reformed, and joked that whoever wagered on his long-shot election as pope “won a lot, of course.”

But his comments on the "gay lobby" are likely to gain the most attention, especially in the West, where Catholic leaders have been mounting a fierce fight against same-sex marriage.

After Benedict announced his resignation in February, reports circulated that a “gay lobby” had forced his hand.

Cardinals appointed by the former pope to find the source of the leaks investigated high-level Vatican clergy involved in homosexual affairs who might have been vulnerable to blackmail, according to La Repubblica, a leading Italian newspaper.

La Repubblica reported that the cardinals found evidence of a “gay lobby” within the Vatican but gave few details about it.

"Some high level clergy are exposed to the `external influence' – what we would call blackmail – of lay people to whom they are connected through ties of a `worldly nature,'" La Repubblica wrote.

The Vatican blasted the newspaper reports as “unverified, unverifiable and completely false.”

Francis is one of the few Catholic leaders to have seen the Vatican report.

The so-called Vatileaks scandal led to Benedict's butler, Paolo Gabriele, being convicted on charges last year of leaking private papers from the the pope's private office. He was sentenced to 18 months in prison.

'Gay lobby' behind pope's resignation? Not likely

John Allen, CNN’s senior Vatican analyst, has said it would have been odd if the Vatican report had not considered the possibility that "insiders leading a double life," including sexually active clergy, might be vulnerable to pressure to betray the pope.

“It seems a stretch, however, to suggest this is the real reason," behind Benedict's resignation, Allen said.

In one of his first actions as pope, Francis created a council of eight cardinals, including Cardinal Sean O'Malley of Boston,  to offer suggestions on reforming the Vatican.

“The reform of the Roman Curia is something that almost all Cardinals asked for in the congregations preceding the Conclave,” Francis said, referring to the meetings that led up to his election in March. “I also asked for it.”

But Francis said that he cannot promote the reform himself. “I am very disorganized,” he said, adding, “I have never been good at this.”

Instead, the pope said, he is relying on his eight appointed cardinals to move the reforms forward.

CNN's Richard Greene contributed to this report. 

- CNN Religion Editor

Filed under: Belief • Catholic Church • Christianity • Church • Gay rights • gender issues • Homosexuality

soundoff (1,872 Responses)
  1. Science

    As the comedy of evolution continues ..............truth.

    June 12, 2013 at 9:21 am |
  2. Perfect

    This man is an idiot.
    It reminds me that the Catholic Church is the world's largest, most profitable corporation – and its most corrupt. The Catholic Church lobbies every political and social activity in the world. So, clean up your own act because the Gay Lobby is actually the Gay Mafia and we are going to get you.

    June 12, 2013 at 9:20 am |
    • Sue

      So, that's why we've had sooo many Catholic presidents! The Vatican has been putting their men into office all this time.

      Sorry to tell you, but the RCC isn't nearly as diabolical as reading all those Dan Brown novels would lead you to believe.

      June 12, 2013 at 9:41 am |
    • ImIrish

      Hmmmm.....I suspect we have a former and disgruntled Catholic?

      June 12, 2013 at 10:06 am |
    • Wm.Russ Martin

      When your entire existence and your job depends on make believe, what do you expect?

      June 12, 2013 at 1:00 pm |
  3. snowboarder

    there are hom ose xuals in every walk of life, so it is not surprising that there would be a hom ose xual lobby at the vatican.

    June 12, 2013 at 9:14 am |
    • Bill Deacon

      Snow, When I first read your comment, I thought "Here's one who got it right". Of course there are gaay Catholics and, of course, some are in the clergy. I think the issue the pope will have to grapple with though is contained in the word "lobby". There have been other special interest "lobbys" throughout the history of the Vatican. But any time a group gathers to lobby for an interest which subverts the Gospel, it rises above the observation of demographics and becomes something more. A lobby points towards an agenda. The pope will have to act to eliminate the agenda, if not the personalities.

      June 12, 2013 at 10:06 am |
    • Pete

      "A lobby points towards an agenda. The pope will have to act to eliminate the agenda, if not the personalities."

      Part of people getting recognition and rights is to lobby those that spread hate and bigotry toward those minority groups it's one of the reasons the Catholic church has changed it's stance on somethings throughout it's history.

      June 12, 2013 at 10:11 am |
    • Bill Deacon

      That's not likely within the Catholic Church Pete on this issue.

      June 12, 2013 at 10:48 am |
  4. sally

    I wish the US had straight talking honest leaders...

    June 12, 2013 at 9:05 am |
    • Perfect

      THE US is a COUNTRY. The Vatican is a CHURCH. And the Pope – idiot – is not saying ANYTHING we don't already know.
      The Catholic Church is one of the most corrupt organizations on earth. It isn't a GOOD thing or a GOD thing girl.

      June 12, 2013 at 9:21 am |
  5. Silly

    Here we go again, another witch hunt by the Vatican Drama Queens!

    June 12, 2013 at 9:05 am |
  6. TP

    Every Catholic Priest including the Pope is gay. 500 men living in a mansion wearing dresses...surrounding by the finest antiques and artwork........when the gay marriage issue is finally resolved, the Priests will start getting married .... and they can stop molesting the alter boys....

    June 12, 2013 at 8:46 am |
  7. The three letter adjective that changed the 21st century

    Add the word 'gay' to any topic and it sure does peak the interest of mortals. Words do not convey the same meaning anymore without the use of the adjective.
    Gays rule the world! Gay pride! Gay Prince! Gay lobby! Gay! Gay! Gay!

    June 12, 2013 at 8:45 am |
    • Willy

      How about 'You are so gay'

      June 12, 2013 at 8:47 am |
    • Conservative head and a liberal heart

      “Pilate's skeptical sneer "What is truth?" was addressed to Truth Himself, standing there right in front of his face. The world's stupidest question was three words; God's profoundest answer was one Word.” -Kreeft

      June 12, 2013 at 9:00 am |
  8. sweenbass

    When it comes to matters concerning all of the books that people consider to be "holy" (Bible, Koran, Gita etc...)
    Are there some interesting stories in those books? Some stories are & some are not. The ones that you think are interesting may not be the ones that interest me but that's personal taste.
    Do those aforementioned books contain philosophies that people can use to help improve their lives & the lives of others? Of course they do! This is true of all those books & more.
    However when it comes to questions of a spiritual nature (A deity, A life force or soul, existence after natural death etc...), the best that those books can do is speculate. That is because they were written by people.
    Some people wish to hang their spiritual hat on a speculation that one of those books offer. I do not.
    Is there a spiritual component to the universe? I don't know.
    However, I have not read anything in any of those books that convinces me that the speculations in them are anything more than that.
    That is why I refer to myself as an agnostic.

    June 12, 2013 at 8:38 am |
    • I Am God

      I agree with you. I am an Atheist through and through, but I agree with you that it is hard to come up with some spiritual force through books written by man

      June 12, 2013 at 8:40 am |
    • Joe

      That's interesting, but I don't think the story is about you.

      June 12, 2013 at 8:47 am |
  9. Dyslexic doG

    If the Bible is the word of God, then he must be one confused and incoherently raving individual.

    June 12, 2013 at 8:29 am |
    • gg

      The Bible was written by many individuals with the guidance of God.

      June 12, 2013 at 8:53 am |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      gg: So now you must provide evidence that god exists, otherwise the buybull is nothing more than the words of man inspired by man.

      June 12, 2013 at 9:01 am |
    • sam stone

      gg: if that were the case, it was pretty crappy guidance

      June 12, 2013 at 9:27 am |
  10. Time Has Come

    There could be no doubt that this amazing revelation was coming. It was bound to come in light of the fact that Gays exist everywhere, so why would the Vatican be excluded? It is good that Francis has opened this up and has come forth with this important information. Perhaps Catholics will now take another look at the matter and be more compassionate towards their Gay brothers.

    June 12, 2013 at 8:23 am |
  11. WASP

    GLENN I LOVE YOU WHY DON'T YOU REPLY TO ME ANYMORE?

    ROFLMFAO, so much like a christian; you can't deal with questions you can't answer and hate it when we answer your questions.

    June 12, 2013 at 8:20 am |
    • JMEF

      WASP there was another religious nutter with a female handle that I cannot remember that could not find or refused to use the reply button. The same tactic Glenn is using, same troll different day, different handle but just as ignorant.

      June 12, 2013 at 8:29 am |
  12. Tutuvabene

    An honest pope, for once.

    June 12, 2013 at 8:19 am |
  13. Lady Dee

    Gay lobby amongst Roman Catholic priests- Aren't they synonymous?

    June 12, 2013 at 8:17 am |
  14. Eduardo Rodriguez

    A gay lobby in the Vatican?

    God save us all. Literally.

    June 12, 2013 at 8:12 am |
    • sam stone

      From what? His temper tantrum?

      June 12, 2013 at 8:22 am |
  15. Glenn

    Most people's reality is what the media preseives what reality should be, YouTube unmasking Hollywood part 1&2

    June 12, 2013 at 8:10 am |
    • WASP

      @glenn: deal, just youtube " banned from the bible one and two" as well so we can have a trading of information. 🙂

      hey just an idiotic question, but is your hero GLENN BECK? 🙂

      June 12, 2013 at 8:18 am |
  16. I_M_Forman

    So the "intellegencia" scoffs at the idea of Intelligent Design? something can never come from nothing, even in quantum physics. No one in science anywhere can say that they know what happened before the big bang, They can only speculate. Since has its limits and those limits are where Faith starts. It is sheer folly to deny the existence of God. Complex organism did not appear by themselves.

    Now as to why a good God allows disease and pestilence. The entire payoff is eternity. This world is not eternity, but a means to obtain eternal life or pay the price for all eternity. God's God gives his creation the freedom to choose, even if that choice is to reject Him. We are not Pavlov's dogs where only the good are rewarded and the bad punished. Love is not love unless it is freely chosen.

    Since there is a God there is also a Devil. He is not an abstract concept of evil but a pre-natural being that, in his fall from Grace, seeks to take down as many of God's creation as he can. He exists and the millions slain under atheistic Communism in the 20th century is proof of that. It wasn't atheism that started the university system, or scientific method, or is the larges private health care provider in the world, the largest private educational system in the world and the largest private Charity in the world. God is not a candy machine that dispenses little goodies on demand. We understand not to believe, but believe to understand.

    Try as man may, to ignore the fact that there is a God opens him right up to the Devil. Ridicule all you want, but time is never on the side of doubters or non-believers.

    June 12, 2013 at 8:07 am |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I can't let you do that

      Where did god come from?

      June 12, 2013 at 8:09 am |
    • WASP

      @forman: "something can never come from nothing, even in quantum physics."

      1) science claims everything came from something
      2)religion states as "fact" that there "was nothing then there was god, then he made everything else".
      3) if you bothered to study science in depth, you would find everything in exsistance is created from energy
      4) energy CAN NOT be created nor destroyed
      5) that means all the energy past present and future will always remain the same
      6) if energy is "eternal" merely changing forms, the universe is "eternal"
      7) the laws of the universe are in direct correlation to the interactions of energy.

      June 12, 2013 at 8:16 am |
    • GogogoStopSTOP

      Forman, my own belief is that the laws of physics are all correct, all predictive to the extent we understand them. In other words, everything the physicist tell us us true with respect to the predictions of energy, mass, speed & acceleration & their conservation theories.

      BUT, once the physicists try to extrapolate into the far distant past or future, once they try to set the boundary conditions for their theories, all the theories breakdown completely... nothing that we previously understood works. That's when, for me, God exists... LOL, QED!

      June 12, 2013 at 8:59 am |
    • tallulah13

      So basically, I_M_Forman is trying to say that he/she is not willing to wait for honest answers, therefore god did it.

      June 12, 2013 at 10:01 am |
    • Eric G

      "once the physicists try to extrapolate into the far distant past or future, once they try to set the boundary conditions for their theories, all the theories breakdown completely... nothing that we previously understood works."

      Can you provide some examples of where a theory completely breaks down due to the conditions you suggest? Without specific examples, your post sounds like another "God of the gaps" position.

      June 12, 2013 at 10:24 am |
    • Brother Maynard

      I_M_Forman sez:
      "So the "intellegencia" scoffs at the idea of Intelligent Design?"
      hmm ... So BECAUSE something is called 'intelligent' means it is so ?
      I'm now guessing that you think that the 'god partical' ( of which Higgs hates that name ) is really a piece of god?

      June 12, 2013 at 11:08 am |
  17. waypasthadenough

    My My, all this over whose version of authoritarianism will reign. I'm referring to the comments of course since I feel I can safely claim that most atheists are "Liberal" or 'progressive' meaning communist.

    But then the other side has a god that was clearly patterned after the ancient evil kings who looked down their noses at their subjects and said "Obey me or I'll torture and kill you in this life and maybe the next because I'm a god, or want to be a god or am related to or descended from the gods." or as most churches teach nowadays appointed by their god so government must not be questioned.

    Millions may be about to die partly over whose sadistic god will get to burn the vast majority of humans who ever existed alive in fire forever. Sheeple who believe this stupidly reproduce when their bible or koran clearly says their children most likely will be tortured alive forever. That's the last thing I'd want to be guilty of, contributing to that process.

    The human race is insane. Until we stop choosing among the various forms of authoritarianism nothing will get better.

    Don't understand? Start here: http://www.willowtown.com/promo/quotes.htm

    June 12, 2013 at 8:06 am |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I can't let you do that

      This atheist is neither liberal nor commie.

      June 12, 2013 at 8:11 am |
    • sam stone

      filth: the new testament is mythology. pull it out of your a$$

      June 12, 2013 at 9:28 am |
  18. GSK22

    Whoever believes in the God of the Bible has one twisted mind. How can one believe in a creator who murders millions of living creatures on a daily basis because that's the best he could do.

    June 12, 2013 at 8:06 am |
    • Evenstar

      God is not a kid with a magnifying glass in the sun, man is the killer. Man does the killing. Read your bible!

      June 12, 2013 at 8:12 am |
    • sam stone

      The god of the bible (as described by christians) is a vindictive pr1ck

      June 12, 2013 at 8:23 am |
    • Dyslexic doG

      and if the Bible is the word of God, then he must be one confused and incoherently raving individual.

      June 12, 2013 at 8:29 am |
  19. Evenstar

    I am a catholic but I can not say that I believe in the church as it is today. I believe in what the church should be, but not what it has become. It is a hypocritical brood of vipers. It is no wonder so many are leaving the church, "do as I say and not as I do" is the foundation of hypocrisy, and they should know this.

    June 12, 2013 at 8:05 am |
  20. Glenn

    YouTube incredible creatures that defy evolution. See I believe knowledge is progressive. Scientist have been wrong many times, you just have to look at there track record and what they have put in the text books

    June 12, 2013 at 8:03 am |
    • GSK22

      Here goes an idiot...

      June 12, 2013 at 8:05 am |
    • WASP

      glenn: however when we are wrong it is only replaced by showing where the error was made and why the past hypothesis was inaccurate, if a hypothesis can't be shown to fail..........say like evolution, then it becomes a theory. which means it is accepted as fact, even the pope accepts evolution and aliens. XD

      June 12, 2013 at 8:09 am |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.