Today marks the release of In the Closet of the Vatican, a book written by gay Frenchman Frédéric Martel that (controversially) suggests a link between sex abuse in the Catholic Church and the secrecy required from gay priests. The book is timed with a four-day Vatican “summit,” which begins today, on multiple topics including child sex abuse at the hands of clergy.
Among the most damning — and controversial — claims of Martel’s book is that the “institutionalized coverup of sexual crimes and misdemeanors” by some of the church’s highest officers is part of a full-fledged “culture” that exists because so many priests and cardinals are in fact gay men.
“[T]he ‘culture of secrecy,’ which was necessary to maintain silence about the huge presence of homosexuality inside the church, has made it possible to hide sexual abuse, and for predators to benefit from this system of protection within the institution,” Martel argues in his book.
Martel also alleges that gay priests who attempt to expose child sex abuse by other clergy members face threats of blackmail: “These priests, even if they are victims, seldom make a complaint: The price to be paid for making a report at the police station would be too high. They only do so in the most serious cases. Most of the time, they say nothing; they hide and go home in silence, weighed down with their vice and hiding their bruises.”
In the book, not only does Martel claim 8 out of 10 Vatican priests are secretly gay, but he claims his new book was completed with the assistance of 27 gay priests who live or work in the Vatican. After extensive interviews, Martel says of these gay priests, “They were hit on, flirted with, and slept with a lot of cardinals in the College of Cardinals. … One gay priest alone told me he had slept with six different cardinals.”
Meanwhile, Martel’s book isn’t without its critics, and not just those taking up in defense of clergy. Some are quick to shoot down Martel’s linking of homosexuality among priests and cardinals to the church’s rampant sexual assaults on children.
The Daily Beast spoke to Peter Saunders, an abuse survivor who has criticized the church for failing to act on its pattern of child sex scandals and part of the group Ending Clergy Abuse, who notes that many victims of Catholic clergy are in fact female. “There is no link between people who are gay and people who abuse children,” Saunders says.
And science backs up Saunders’ point.
Professionals are quick to point out that a link between male pedophiles — even those who commit their crimes against young boys — and homosexuality is a false one. Scientists, psychologists and therapists have long argued that pedophiles are aroused by youth, not gender.
And let’s be clear, there are absolutely individuals and groups attempting to link all of the church’s recent sex abuse woes on ‘the scourge of homosexuality.’
Just yesterday two cardinals issued a joint open letter blaming the Catholic Church’s rampant abuse on the “homosexual agenda”:
It seems that the difficulty is reduced to that of the abuse of minors, a horrible crime, especially when it is perpetrated by a priest, which is, however, only part of a much greater crisis. The plague of the homosexual agenda has been spread within the church, promoted by organized networks and protected by a climate of complicity and a conspiracy of silence.
Martel’s book argues that sexual abuse by Catholic clergy is sure to continue until three things happen: (1) the celibacy requirement of clergy is abolished, (2) the church chooses to acknowledge homosexuality and (3) women are able to be ordained as priests.
“All other measures concerning sexual abuse are in vain,” he says.
Are you shocked at Martel’s claims of so many gay priests in the Vatican?
Featured image of Pope Francis at St. Peter’s Basilica via Getty Images