June 11th, 2013
01:35 PM ET

Pope Francis: `Gay lobby' exists inside Vatican

By Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor
[twitter-follow screen_name='BurkeCNN']

(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. Northerngirl

    "Gay and lesbian Catholic groups did not immediately respond to requests for comment." There is no such thing as gay and lesbian CATHOLIC groups. If you are a gay or lesbian you can not be a Catholic, it's like saying my pregnant spayed dog.

    June 11, 2013 at 8:24 pm |
    • The real Tom

      More fool you. Lots of people you know are gay and you have no clue about it, darling.

      June 11, 2013 at 8:26 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      What, Northerngirl? They ate all those little crackers and drank crappy wine from the same cup as you and they're not Catholic??

      June 11, 2013 at 8:28 pm |
    • LaPazEsteContigo

      You should have a clue before you speak. There are several established gay and lesbian Catholic groups. Poor dumb dumb girl.

      June 11, 2013 at 8:31 pm |
    • JJ

      Considering the majority of your priests are gay I'd say you're full of shit.

      June 11, 2013 at 8:33 pm |
    • James

      Baptized, confessed, confirmed, wafer eating flamer here. Are you making this up as you go along? Back to CCD for you gurrl.

      June 11, 2013 at 8:41 pm |
    • CameronL

      Funny you say that, given that the Judeo-Christian God purportedly created all of humanity–including gays and lesbians. Maybe it's not the people at fault, but the contentiously oppressive denomination?

      June 11, 2013 at 8:42 pm |
    • prxam2

      @ JJ: That explains the abuse scandal in the Church, which consisted of 95% pederasty.

      June 11, 2013 at 8:48 pm |
    • Etu Brutus

      You are so wrong, gays can be Catholic, but they are asked to be not ACTIVE... there is a huge difference...

      June 11, 2013 at 9:11 pm |
    • Etu Brutus

      JJ, where do you get your misinformed information? or did you just read it on the internet

      June 11, 2013 at 9:13 pm |
    • Arthur Bryant

      Are you really that stupid?

      June 12, 2013 at 10:21 pm |
  2. HeavenSent

    Romans 16:17

    Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.


    June 11, 2013 at 8:21 pm |
    • The real Tom

      If only people could avoid you. Oh, wait. They can. That's why you're here; no one will associate with you in real life.

      June 11, 2013 at 8:23 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      What is real life for HeavenSent?

      June 11, 2013 at 8:25 pm |
    • The real Tom

      You do have a point, TTTOO.

      June 11, 2013 at 8:26 pm |
    • btruth

      Beautifully said!

      June 11, 2013 at 8:39 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Still stalking me Tom?

      June 11, 2013 at 8:57 pm |
    • lionlylamb


      The 'real' Tom is a drag queen of bullying indecencies. She is a 58 year old tom cat bully who hasn't a good word to say about anyone!

      June 11, 2013 at 9:22 pm |

    • You're a slithy tove yourself, lionlylamb.

      June 11, 2013 at 9:24 pm |
    • lionlylamb


      I slither whenever the sloths of worded loneliness do banter about! 👿

      June 11, 2013 at 9:31 pm |
    • HeavenSent



      June 11, 2013 at 9:49 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Imagine HS and LL fucking like weasels.

      June 11, 2013 at 9:57 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      It be nice if The real Tom figured out what mute point is. Then she'd be able to abide in it.

      June 11, 2013 at 10:05 pm |
    • The real Tom

      "Mute point?"

      Please tell me you're not that retarded.

      June 11, 2013 at 10:06 pm |
    • lionlylamb


      Hit the 'report abuse' on TrTom. I did. This belief blog does not need folks who continually use vulgar words here where even kids can come to play ❗ I repented and will not use them again here. Let this 58 year old muffin do her own stuffin!

      June 11, 2013 at 10:19 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Go ahead and report me for making fun of an idiot who doesn't know the difference between "mute" and "moot."

      June 11, 2013 at 10:20 pm |
    • lionlylamb


      Moot or mute does not give you any right to use swear words now does it? 😥

      June 11, 2013 at 10:36 pm |
    • lionlylamb


      Besides, you swore before Heavensent used the mute/moot fiasco. You truly are bully...

      June 11, 2013 at 10:42 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      The real Tom, you posted "Go ahead and report me for making fun of an idiot who doesn't know the difference between "mute" and "moot.""

      Answer: Mute point is my telling you politely Tom to zip your lips.

      June 11, 2013 at 11:14 pm |
    • Arthur Bryant

      Principia Discordia; The Book of Uterus; 1:8 " By the by it came to pass that the Establishment of Bureaucracy perished in a paper shortage. "

      June 12, 2013 at 11:56 pm |
  3. STFU

    something new !!! I thought Vatican was all virgin !!!

    June 11, 2013 at 8:21 pm |
  4. Science

    The bible is BS !

    Biblical Marriage Not Defined Simply As One Man, One Woman: Iowa Religious Scholars' Op-Ed


    June 11, 2013 at 8:15 pm |
    • Southernsuga

      Go and find something you find acceptable. I don't find that you have anything acceptable to say.

      June 11, 2013 at 8:33 pm |
    • The real Tom

      He just found an opinion that counters yours, honey. Why does that bother you so much? Are you just now realizing that not everyone thinks as you do?

      June 11, 2013 at 8:35 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Mark 10:5-9

      5 And Jesus answered and said unto them, For the hardness of your heart he wrote you this precept.

      6   But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female.

      7   For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife;

      8   And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh.

      9   What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.


      June 11, 2013 at 8:42 pm |
    • Science

      HS + bible junk + BS or it rhymes with third you know HS>\.

      June 11, 2013 at 8:47 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Science, third is your first, middle and last names.

      June 11, 2013 at 8:59 pm |
    • fred

      There was no reason to address homosexual marriage in the Bible. Sex between two men was an abomination and symbolic of perversion.

      Seems the scholars that wrote that article forgot to read the Bible and it is clear:
      For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.

      June 11, 2013 at 9:00 pm |
    • Science

      Enjoy ..............no fairy in the sky needed .

      George Takei Fan Correction On Conan: 'Water Is Gay' (VIDEO)


      June 11, 2013 at 9:01 pm |
    • Observer


      Skip the HYPOCRISY. If you ACTUALLY cared about s-xual sins, you'd be spending all your time on trying to fix the millions and millions of Christian ADULTERERS who divorce and remarry.

      There are FAR FAR MORE of them. Ooops.

      June 11, 2013 at 9:05 pm |
    • fred

      Gay marriage and the Bible do not fit in any way shape or form. My thought is if we want to edit the Bible why just go directly to the Jefferson Bible because that is where we will end up.
      If the people demand gay marriage that is a political issue not a biblical one.

      June 11, 2013 at 9:06 pm |
    • Observer


      "Gay marriage and the Bible do not fit in any way shape or form"

      Yep. Gays believe they should be married because they love each other rather than God who believes marriage should be FORCED onto people. Read a Bible sometime.

      June 11, 2013 at 9:11 pm |
    • fred

      Give up on the adultery thing already. Adultery is prevalent and a sin according to the Bible. Homosexuality is sin according to the Bible and prevalence of same is a sign of the end times. Both these sins are clear and without doubt. You can keep your adultery and gay marriage but you cannot change what is written.

      June 11, 2013 at 9:12 pm |
    • Science

      Hey fredy there is no biblical anything as the bible is bullsh-it.

      June 11, 2013 at 9:13 pm |
    • Observer


      So how much time do you spend telling fellow Christians what ADULTERERS they are and that they must divorce?

      Answer please. Any answer other than HYPOCRISY?

      June 11, 2013 at 9:15 pm |
    • fred


      I read the Bible and sin is sin period. Sin serves a great purpose because without it we would not need to be forgiven. This is why it is so important for gay marriage and homosexuality to become acceptable because it mocks God and mocks the Bible.
      Tighten up your sphincter because your end is nearer than you think !

      June 11, 2013 at 9:19 pm |
    • Observer


      We know what the Bible says. This is all about PICK-AND-CHOOSE HYPOCRISY.

      So how much time do you spend telling fellow Christians what ADULTERERS they are and that they must divorce?

      Answer please. Any answer other than HYPOCRISY?

      June 11, 2013 at 9:20 pm |
    • fred

      The Bible reveals the condition of your soul. I know there is no scientific proof that soul exists. The Bible reveals who you really are relative to your intended purpose.

      June 11, 2013 at 9:22 pm |
    • fred

      As I said sin is sin it does not matter if it is adultery or murder. You are the hypocrite because of your focus on homosexuality. God is going to give a homosexual 10 years in hell and an adulterer 9 years with time off for good behavior. Sin as with the old Hebrew law serves the purpose of pointing us to our need for salvation and the fact we are all sinners. That's it
      If politicians pass a law saying adultery is now normal, natural and in our DNA and we have parades to celebrate our infidelity it is still sin.

      June 11, 2013 at 9:28 pm |
    • Observer


      Still completely STUMPED?

      You still have NO IDEA how many Christian ADULTERERS you've told to divorce?

      June 11, 2013 at 9:31 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      fred, your sin and your self-pity that you are mired in sin plus your hopes that you may somehow be rescued by someone holy and pure add up to a strange blend of masochism and fairy tales.

      June 11, 2013 at 9:35 pm |
    • fred

      Tom Tom
      So you prefer a story line where in the end the wicked sisters and Cinderella discover there is no Prince Charming? There is good reason Disney has never produced a story where the wicked sisters and poor old Cinderella find themselves in the same abyss following an accidental existence.
      No one, not even a child would fall for that story and if they did just how would such a world view change the society we live in?

      June 11, 2013 at 9:45 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      Disney knows that the truth is disturbing and doesn't sell well.

      June 11, 2013 at 9:49 pm |
    • fred

      The word divorce is one of the few times we hear God use the word hate in the Bible. "For I hate divorce,” says the LORD, the God of Israel, “and him who covers his garment with wrong,”

      June 11, 2013 at 9:54 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      fred, Where is this penal code published? Is there a "3 strikes" law?

      June 11, 2013 at 9:58 pm |
    • fred

      Tom Tom
      Gods story gives hope in a promise to those who need it and desire that which God desires for them. If you do not need a Prince Charming in your life and no desire to live happily ever after that story would of little value. You see Cinderella had to seek after the Prince and get into that ballroom. Jesus says there will be a banquet to which you have been invited but you must strive to get there. That's all it takes Tom, if the shoe fits wear it !

      June 11, 2013 at 10:08 pm |
    • The real Tom

      fred, your kids are right to be embarrassed by you.

      June 11, 2013 at 10:10 pm |
    • Observer


      Yep. So remember than when you pick on gays and ignore the MUCH MUCH GREATER number of Christian ADULTERERS.

      June 11, 2013 at 10:12 pm |
    • Rodents for Romney

      nope ferd. Ferd, if ya go ta hell, ya STAY there. 10 years ... hahahahahahahahahahahahahaha.
      You "loving" god sends people there for trillions upon trillions upon trillions upon trillions upon trillions of years.

      June 11, 2013 at 10:23 pm |
    • fred

      10 years in hell would feel like an eternity...............

      June 11, 2013 at 10:41 pm |
  5. Ray

    ... And the fruitcakes come out in droves ...

    June 11, 2013 at 8:14 pm |
    • Science

      Agree.................from xmas past.

      June 11, 2013 at 8:17 pm |
  6. cave man

    join me too chant too the gawds around the campfire

    June 11, 2013 at 8:14 pm |

    So hot in here, I am going back to the pool, adios

    June 11, 2013 at 8:10 pm |
  8. petroskies

    that lobby exist for sure and has show with all their power into the white house , in the way Mr. Obama and many of his bodies talk openly about the marriage and federal benefits for that perverts and all whom push for their recognition like a regular couple whom can reproduce themselves like a regular man and normal woman, the pope know the existence of that plague in every corner of the planet , specially in countries with great moral respect and traditionally values religious like the jewish and Christian tradition even muslin too in the past don't tolerate that kind of leaders , but we see and hear with our won eyes how Mr. Obama the leaders of this nation open the door to these abominable sodom and gomorrah people contaminate this great nation,in others leaders follow that very bad precedent of this leader and his liberal associates .

    June 11, 2013 at 8:09 pm |
    • The real Tom


      Whew! That post was a big bowl of crap.

      June 11, 2013 at 8:10 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Did Moose and Squirrel screw the diabolical plans you and Natasha made, Boris Badenov?

      June 11, 2013 at 8:12 pm |
  9. Daddy2010

    No surprise there. Gays and anti-Religious have been inserting themselves (no pun intended) in all manner of places they shouldn't be, such as the Catholic Church.

    June 11, 2013 at 8:07 pm |
    • The real Tom

      And you think you're going to what about it, exactly? Gays aren't going away, dearie. Too bad for you.

      June 11, 2013 at 8:08 pm |
    • Daddy2010

      Tom, silly Tom.
      You should get over yourself. I have no desire to do anything about it. You go right on being gay.
      I'll stick with straight. Don't bother me, I won't bother you.

      June 11, 2013 at 10:13 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Honey, I'm female, straight and married. Have been for over 3 decades.

      If I were gay, I'd be able to do much better than you, dearie.

      June 11, 2013 at 10:15 pm |
    • Observer


      When the Catholic Church stops trying to deny equal rights to people, then you will begin to have a valid complaint.

      June 11, 2013 at 10:16 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      The Catholic band of strange men who proudly abstain from women is a natural place for any man inclined to hide his sexuality, whatever it might entail, Daddy2010.

      June 11, 2013 at 10:24 pm |

    Fundamentally every human being is a follower of truth absolute Magi ism, secular s ism.

    June 11, 2013 at 7:58 pm |
    • Southernsuga

      This article was not about Muhammad, bubba.

      June 11, 2013 at 8:23 pm |
  11. STFU

    LOL !!! I like to call this guy Pope "Whistleblower" Francis.

    June 11, 2013 at 7:55 pm |
  12. David

    Must be another BIG scandal about to break- in the weeks leading up to the child abuse scandals- the Vatican did nothing but go after "the gays" blaming them for everything they could think of. Offensive defense. And every time a NEW scandal was about to break, they went on another blame the gays binge.

    Something big must be about to hit the fan.

    June 11, 2013 at 7:52 pm |
    • Stephen Daedalus

      I think that's sound reasoning.

      June 11, 2013 at 8:06 pm |
  13. One one

    I don't know what a "gay lobby" is, but what ever it is, it was created by the Catholic Church. Now they have to deal with it. In doing so, they should choose wisely.

    June 11, 2013 at 7:51 pm |
  14. TRose

    More pot-stirring from CNN...who'd'a thunk it. Listen, I just popped in here (right when the comments counted 666, by the way:) to say that if you come to CNN for religions news, you might do just as well to check out the National Enquirer or the Star.

    June 11, 2013 at 7:49 pm |
  15. Speak the Truth

    I doubt there is a gay lobby in the Vatican. If that were true, do you really think the pope would be allowed to wear that hat? Dreadful. I mean really, who dresses this man? Is that why he never smiles?

    June 11, 2013 at 7:43 pm |
  16. wilf

    A private mens club where no ladies are allowed. Sounds like a gay club to me. I'm sure the ones who came up with the plan where gay

    June 11, 2013 at 7:39 pm |
  17. shamgar50

    Gay Lobby? Get a different decorator, or at least take up the pink rug.

    June 11, 2013 at 7:33 pm |
  18. Jimmy Morris

    Admitting the problem is half of it.Eliminating the problem is the other half.This Pope just may have the guts to stand up and clean house.Sure hope so.

    June 11, 2013 at 7:32 pm |
    • Al

      That's right. Let's hope this pope can push the church back into the 19th century. There's entirely too much compassion going on these days.

      June 11, 2013 at 7:50 pm |
  19. Dave

    The horror – a "Gay Lobby" inside the Vatican. When will this end ? The next thing you know and a "Woman's Lobby" will emerge in the Vatican. The end is near !

    June 11, 2013 at 7:31 pm |
  20. cyberties

    A Gay lobby??? Is that the lobby with only an exit door?

    June 11, 2013 at 7:30 pm |
    • Joe

      But that exit is also an entrance.

      June 11, 2013 at 7:44 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.