June 11th, 2013
01:35 PM ET

Pope Francis: `Gay lobby' exists inside Vatican

By Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor
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(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. higgs bosun

    as certain as a sunrise

    June 11, 2013 at 2:11 pm |
  2. John Donn

    There's a 'gay lobby'? Is that the one that's all decorated in pink, with pretty bows and flowers, and an entrance in the rear?

    June 11, 2013 at 2:10 pm |
    • The other Tom

      What does that even mean? Learn to communicate.

      June 11, 2013 at 2:18 pm |
    • Doobs

      @ Tom

      I think what it means is that the middle schools in the bible belt are on summer vacation.

      June 11, 2013 at 2:24 pm |
  3. EX catholic

    That is one of the many consequences of the Sin of IDOLATRY a judgement from God.

    This is how the apostle Paul explains it precisely to the then nascent church in Rome:

    Rom. 1:20-28
    20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.
    21 For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened.
    22 Professing to be wise, they became fools,
    23 and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and 4-footed animals and crawling creatures.
    24 Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them.
    25 For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.
    26 For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural,
    27 and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error.
    28 And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper,

    June 11, 2013 at 2:07 pm |
    • Reality

      Since we are "thu-mping" NT passages:

      Saving Christians from the Infamous Resurrection Con/

      From that famous passage: In 1 Corinthians 15: 14, Paul reasoned, "If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith."

      Even now Catholic/Christian professors of theology are questioning the bodily resurrection of the simple, preacher man aka Jesus.

      To wit;

      From a major Catholic university's theology professor’s grad school white-board notes:

      "Heaven is a Spirit state or spiritual reality of union with God in love, without earthly – earth bound distractions.
      Jesus and Mary's bodies are therefore not in Heaven.

      Most believe that it to mean that the personal spiritual self that survives death is in continuity with the self we were while living on earth as an embodied person.

      Again, the physical Resurrection (meaning a resuscitated corpse returning to life), Ascension (of Jesus' crucified corpse), and Assumption (Mary's corpse) into heaven did not take place.

      The Ascension symbolizes the end of Jesus' earthly ministry and the beginning of the Church.

      Only Luke records it. (Luke mentions it in his gospel and Acts, i.e. a single attestation and therefore historically untenable). The Ascension ties Jesus' mission to Pentecost and missionary activity of Jesus' followers.

      The Assumption has multiple layers of symbolism, some are related to Mary's special role as "Christ bearer" (theotokos). It does not seem fitting that Mary, the body of Jesus' Virgin-Mother (another biblically based symbol found in Luke 1) would be derived by worms upon her death. Mary's assumption also shows God's positive regard, not only for Christ's male body, but also for female bodies." "

      "In three controversial Wednesday Audiences, Pope John Paul II pointed out that the essential characteristic of heaven, hell or purgatory is that they are states of being of a spirit (angel/demon) or human soul, rather than places, as commonly perceived and represented in human language. This language of place is, according to the Pope, inadequate to describe the realities involved, since it is tied to the temporal order in which this world and we exist. In this he is applying the philosophical categories used by the Church in her theology and saying what St. Thomas Aquinas said long before him."

      The Vatican quickly embellished this story with a lot CYAP.

      With respect to rising from the dead, we also have this account:

      An added note: As per R.B. Stewart in his introduction to the recent book, The Resurrection of Jesus, Crossan and Wright in Dialogue,


      "Reimarus (1774-1778) posits that Jesus became sidetracked by embracing a political position, sought to force God's hand and that he died alone deserted by his disciples. What began as a call for repentance ended up as a misguided attempt to usher in the earthly political kingdom of God. After Jesus' failure and death, his disciples stole his body and declared his resurrection in order to maintain their financial security and ensure themselves some standing."

      p.168. by Ted Peters:

      Even so, asking historical questions is our responsibility. Did Jesus really rise from the tomb? Is it necessary to have been raised from the tomb and to appear to his disciples in order to explain the rise of early church and the transcription of the bible? Crossan answers no, Wright answers, yes. "

      So where are the bones"? As per Professor Crossan's analyses in his many books, the body of Jesus would have ended up in the mass graves of the crucified, eaten by wild dogs, covered with lime in a shallow grave, or under a pile of stones.

      June 11, 2013 at 2:17 pm |
    • toydrum

      Why is it that both of you use books written by Paul to bolster your points. Whether you agree with the religion or not, the core of Christianity is supposed to be the Gospels, not books written decades later by some guy that never even met Jesus. How is it he is used as the "authentic" voice of what Christianity is supposed to believe by pretty much ALL of the Christian denominations?

      June 11, 2013 at 2:42 pm |
    • Zeke2112

      "books written decades later by some guy that never even met Jesus"

      Congrats – you just described every book of the bible. Now do you see how crazy it sounds to the rest of us?

      June 11, 2013 at 4:34 pm |
    • EX catholic


      One of the many consequences is all sorts of moral deviations and perversions against the natural order of Creation. Like it is the case of the HO-MOS. It is extremely stupid to think that because some catholic scholar said this or that is going to change anything for the true believer. They are carrying within themselves the very consequences of their SINS.

      The consequences and the end results of godlessness is the best argument for Godliness.


      June 12, 2013 at 12:41 pm |
  4. Woody

    To paraphrase Captain Renault in "Casablanca" :

    "I'm shocked, shocked to find that bone smuggling is going on in here!"

    June 11, 2013 at 2:07 pm |
  5. Joe

    To quote Anthony Burgess from his book '1985', "Christianity died after Vatican II"

    June 11, 2013 at 2:05 pm |
    • William

      Actually, Christianity died when Constantine and his pagan mother installed goddess worship and called it the Roman Catholic Church.

      June 11, 2013 at 2:08 pm |
    • JamesK

      Perhaps it goes back to the moment when Paul was converted? Jesus never wanted to start a new religion, he aimed his message at his fellow Jews, but along comes Paul and the whole thing gets flipped on it's head. The last people who probably really understood Jesus' message knew him personally and are long, long dead.

      June 11, 2013 at 2:25 pm |
    • EX catholic

      IDOLATRY IS NOT CHRISTIANITY neither is Religion. Idolatry is a Very Serious SIN, don't be so foolish.

      June 12, 2013 at 12:43 pm |
  6. rog

    No surprise here. The Catholic Church is a Satanic Group.

    June 11, 2013 at 2:04 pm |
    • Valentina


      June 11, 2013 at 2:11 pm |
    • norman

      imbecile-gays are just people-no bad or no better than anyone else

      June 11, 2013 at 2:11 pm |
    • Alias

      If you want to get technical, the christians are the only ones who think Satan is a living diety.

      June 11, 2013 at 2:54 pm |
  7. Leigh Bonwit

    A writer named Michael Bullock wrote about his own true experience with closeted Catholic priests. There's something to this "lobby" idea...


    June 11, 2013 at 2:04 pm |
  8. Marjoe

    Ever been in the Best Western in Key West? Talk about a gay lobby.....

    June 11, 2013 at 2:04 pm |
    • ME II

      You seem surprised, why?

      June 11, 2013 at 2:06 pm |
    • Sean

      Tell me more please!

      June 11, 2013 at 3:14 pm |
  9. HeavenSent

    Jude 1.


    June 11, 2013 at 2:03 pm |
    • sam stone

      Translate, edited hearsay


      June 11, 2013 at 2:18 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Tom, still obsessed with stalking me. Some day you'll get over it.

      June 11, 2013 at 2:37 pm |
    • sam stone

      Tom? I only post under this name, you deusional gash

      June 11, 2013 at 3:40 pm |
  10. Anonymous

    I have a feeling there was more to it than we were told behind Benedict's resignation. I 'm not sure this is it, though. I wouldn't be surprised is if the reason he stepped down is that he has some sort of terminal illness or something that would of made his duties impossible for the remainder of his life.

    June 11, 2013 at 2:00 pm |
    • ME II

      At ~85 the terminal disease is age, most likely.

      June 11, 2013 at 2:03 pm |
  11. teenage high school boy (16)

    Told you Benedict was gay.

    June 11, 2013 at 1:59 pm |
    • norman

      theyre all gay, dumdum-what other type of man-besides one shamed into being cellibate by religious kookery-would be a priest?

      June 11, 2013 at 2:12 pm |
  12. The other Tom

    I am shocked too...OMG...gays in the Vatican?

    June 11, 2013 at 1:59 pm |
  13. His panic

    They must be in a total state of Panic.

    June 11, 2013 at 1:58 pm |
  14. P. Mullen

    read Terry Eagleton's review of CNN John Allen's "objective" study of Opus Dei

    June 11, 2013 at 1:57 pm |
  15. Jeebusss

    "Gay Lobby"???? That would be known as a large percentage of your priests and cardinals lol.

    June 11, 2013 at 1:57 pm |
  16. Jakuho Raikoben

    What a shocker.

    June 11, 2013 at 1:53 pm |
  17. Bible Bully

    Bunch of drag queens.

    June 11, 2013 at 1:52 pm |
  18. Ben31

    Gays are a problem everywhere.

    June 11, 2013 at 1:51 pm |
    • sam stone

      so are bigots

      June 11, 2013 at 2:01 pm |
    • The other Tom

      Amen Sam!

      June 11, 2013 at 2:11 pm |
    • Joe A

      Bigots: anyone who disagrees with gays.......

      June 11, 2013 at 4:25 pm |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      Wrong-headed: anyone who disagrees with Joe A

      June 11, 2013 at 4:26 pm |
    • derp

      more like anyone who is not with the dogmatic view of atheism= bigot.

      June 12, 2013 at 1:30 pm |
  19. textee

    Doesn't a gay mafia run the New York Times?

    June 11, 2013 at 1:49 pm |
  20. Tom, Tom, the Other One

    I am shocked that there are influential and corruptible (blackmail-able) men among the strange quasi-celibate men of the Roman Catholic hierarchy. Deeply shocked.

    June 11, 2013 at 1:42 pm |
    • Chuckles


      Your sarcasm button is still on. Don't you hate it when that happens?

      June 11, 2013 at 2:17 pm |
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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.