Bibliophile | In The Closet of the Vatican: Power, Homosexuality, Hypocrisy

In the Closet of the Vatican: Power, Homosexuality, Hypocrisy
by Frederic Martel
Bloomsbury Publishing

This timely book has been published simultaneously in 8 languages and 20 countries. The result of a 4 year investigation where 1500 people were questioned at the Vatican and in 30 countries, it reveals “fifty shades of gay” in the men whose pious public personas differ enormously from their private lives.

This book couldn’t have been published 10 years ago but Pope Francis has it on record that he is intolerant of the “dizzying hypocrisy of those who advocate rigid morality while at the same time having companionship, affairs and sometimes escorts”. Pope Francis opened the door on the closet when he said “Behind rigidity there is always something hidden, in many cases a double life.”

French writer and researcher Frederic Martel’s dedicated investigation reveals that the Vatican is the largest gay community in the world. Martel has had incredible access to all levels of the priesthood, including 41 cardinals, 52 bishops, over 200 priests and even 11 Swiss Guards. But he is less concerned with outing priests than exposing a way of life and revealing the clerical cloak of secrecy whose rigid doctrine conceals a completely different reality.

Not being Catholic, he couldn’t care less if the vows of chastity are being betrayed, but Martel’s research with a team of collaborators reveals that the higher up you go, the louder the homophobic declarations and the more like the brotherhood is actually gay. He also finds out that the gay question is only one intrigue in a place where sexual harassment, settling scores and revenge thrive with rumours and gossip and a culture of secrecy that keeps sexual abuse hidden.

Going back through history from Pope Paul VI (1963-1978) to Pope John-Paul II (1978-2005) and Pope Benedict XVI (2005-2015), Martel delves into the sociology of Catholicism and particularly the Vatican. “In order to grasp the complexity, we must therefore return to old templates, even if they seem to be those of another age.”

From Pope John-Paul II rejecting the use of condoms while priests died of AIDS-related illnesses to the current war against gay marriage, the “don’t ask, don’t tell” mantra has hidden what is probably the largest and most damaging hypocrisy of modern times, as well as protecting sexual predators.

This book is incredibly detailed and fully referenced, so there can be no question about the startlingly disturbing revelations. Martel admits that there are chaste priests who are faithful to their vows of celibacy, but they are in the minority and his exposé is only the beginning. It is essential reading for Catholics and non-Catholics to be fully informed.

Lezly Herbert

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