- Battle lines drawn
This week produced the clearest evidence yet that the Synod Fathers are sharply divided between those who are supporting Pope Francis in his efforts to present a more pastoral vision of the Church and those determined first and foremost to emphasise its moral teaching
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The Vatican’s third-highest ranking official has challenged a former vice-commander of the Swiss Guards to come forward with names and facts after declaring that a powerful gay lobby existed in the Roman Curia and was a threat to the Pope's security.
Archbishop Angelo Becciu, the Vatican’s deputy Secretary of State, said: “My office is open. If Elmar Mäder wants to come and say exactly whom he’s referring to, I’m here.”
Mr Mäder, the Swiss Guards' vice-commander from 2002-08, made his claims to the Swiss paper Schweiz am Sonntag.
He insinuated that there was a great "risk of disloyalty" among gay people, saying he "learned that many homosexuals are inclined to be more loyal to each other than to other people or institutions".
His comments appeared this weekend just two weeks after another former Swiss guard told the paper that he had received up to 20 “unambiguous requests” for sex from Vatican officials, including a cardinal. That former Swiss Guard, who spoke anonymously, said he served during the John Paul II era.
“As in the past, no one has come forward with names and surnames,” Archbishop Becciu told the Italian daily La Repubblica.
“There are those who speak about a gay lobby but no one has yet been able to figure out where this lobby is,” he said.
Becciu, who is the Vatican’s equivalent of an “interior minister”, said the Pope more than anyone wants “clarity and truth” on the matter.
When Pope Francis was asked about a “gay lobby in the Vatican” in July, he intimated he was not aware of such a presence and famously added: “If a person is gay and seeks the Lord and has good will, well who am I to judge them?”
Regarding the morality of homosexual activity, Archbishop Becciu said Francis’ message is to judge no one, but he added that Francis was a “son of the Church and faithful to its doctrine”.
Meanwhile an 84-year-old Spanish archbishop emeritus whom Pope Francis has just named a cardinal told a newspaper in Andalusia that homosexuality was a “bodily defect” that “in most cases can be cured with adequate treatment”.
Cardinal-designate Fernando Sebastién said his view was not a negative judgement on gay people any more than it would be on those with high blood pressure, for whom there is also treatment.
Above: Col Elmar Mäder during a swearing-in ceremony of 33 Swiss Guards at the Vatican in 2008. Photo: CNS/Reuters