It is already reeling from claims Pope Benedict XVI resigned because of a gay cabal in the Vatican.
Now, as the College of Cardinals prepares to elect his successor later today, the scandal-hit Catholic Church has broken into another sweat, this time over news several priests share an apartment block with Europe’s largest homosexual sauna.
The Holy See owns 19 apartments in the block in Rome after buying a £21million share of the building in 2008.
Several of the flats house priests, notably Cardinal Ivan Dias, the so-called ‘prince of the church’ whose 12-room apartment at 2 Via Carducci is located just yards from the Europa Multiclub.
The 76-year-old, who is the head of the Congregation for Evangelisation of Peoples, would no doubt be horrified to discover what was happening on the floor below.
Cardinal Diaz, who is Indian and a former archbishop of Mumbai, will take part in the conclave to elect a successor to Pope Benedict XVI later today.
According to the Independent, he believes that gays and lesbians can be cured of their ‘unnatural tendencies’ through the ‘sacrement of penance’.
But it’s not known if he has ever nipped downstairs to impart his views on those attending the sauna.
The facility, billed as ‘Italy’s best-known gay sauna’, boasts a Turkish bath, Finnish sauna, whirlpools and massages.
Its website ironically touts one of its ‘bear nights’ with a video of a hairy man stripping down and changing into a priest’s outfit.
It says Bruno is ‘free to the music of his clergyman, remaining in a thong, because he wants to expose body and soul’.
The purchase was apparently the brainchild of Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Pope Benedict’s much-disliked right-hand man who held the Vatican’s purse strings during the last pontificate.
Visitors of Italian gay websites were quick to make jokes about the sauna.
One said on Gay.it: ‘Oops, I took the wrong door, I thought it was the chapel.’
The Vatican has declined to comment on the proximity of the sauna to the priests’ accommodation.
The revelations come days after Italian newspapers published claims of homosexuality and blackmail within the Church, with one allegation centering around a secret ‘gay cabal’ of priests.
The Vatican has also been hit with further charges of hypocrisy against the Church’s stance on homosexuality following the resignation of disgraced Scottish cardinal Keith O’Brien.
The 74-year-old had been preparing to help choose the next Pope. But earlier this month effectively admitted that allegations that he made homosexual approaches to young trainee priests were true.
He conceded his ‘sexual conduct’ had ‘fallen below the standards expected of me as a priest, archbishop and cardinal’.
The former archbishop will face a Vatican investigation into his behaviour and could be subjected to further punishment if evidence of wrongdoing is found.
His admission left the Roman Catholic church in both England and Scotland in deep crisis over sexual standards and apparent hypocrisy on the part of its most senior priest.
Vatican purchases €23m building that houses Europe’s biggest gay sauna
Faces at the scandal-struck Vatican are even redder than usual after it emerged that the Holy See had purchased a €23 million share of a Rome apartment block that houses Europe’s biggest gay sauna.
The senior Vatican figure sweating the most due to the unlikely proximity of the gay Europa Multiclub is probably Cardinal Ivan Dias, the head of the Congregation for Evangelisation of Peoples, who is due to participate in the election at the Sistine Chapel.
This 76-year-old “prince of the church” enjoys a 12-room apartment on the first-floor of the imposing palazzo, at 2 Via Carducci, just yards from the ground floor entrance to the steamy flesh pot. There are 18 other Vatican apartments in the block, many of which house priests.
The Holy See is still reeling from allegations that the previous pontiff, Benedict XVI, had quit in reaction to the presence of a gay cabal in the curia.
And with disgraced Scottish cardinal Keith O’Brien lending new weight to charges of hypocrisy against the Church’s stance on homosexuality, La Repubblica newspaper noted that the presence of “Italy’s best known gay sauna in the premises is an embarrassment”.
Cardinal Dias, who is seen as a social conservative even by the current standards of the church hierarchy, is no doubt horrified to learn of the activities taking place a floor below.
It is not known, however, if the former archbishop of Bombay has popped downstairs to give spitiual guidances to the clients of the Europa Multiclub, given his belief that gays and lesbians can be cured of their “unnatural tendencies” through the “sacrement of penance”.
The sauna’s website promotes one of its special “bear nights”, with a video (below) in which a rotund, hairy man strips down before changing into a priest’s outfit. It says Bruno, “a hairy, overweight pastor of souls, is free to the music of his clergyman, remaining in a thong, because he wants to expose body and soul”.
There was further embarrassment for the Holy See when the press observed that thanks to generous tax breaks it received from the last Berlusconi government, the church will have avoided hefty payments to the Italian state. The properties are recognised as part of the Holy City.
Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Pope Emeritus Benedict’s widely disliked right-hand man, who held the Vatican’s purse strings during the last pontificate, was said to have been the brains behind the purchase of 2 Via Carduccio in 2008.
Readers on Italian gay websites were quick to make jokes at the cardinals’ expense. One on the Gay.it site quipped: “’Oops, I took the wrong door, I thought it was the chapel.’…If you can’t go to the gay sauna for fear of being seen what do you do if you have millions of Euros stolen from Italians? You buy the apartment block with the sauna inside.”
- Vatican in a Sweat AGAIN: Catholic Church Left Red-Faced As It Emerges Priests Share Apartment Block with Europe’s Largest Gay Sauna, BishopAccountability.org, 12 March 2013, by Simon Tomlinson (Daily Mail UK) http://www.bishop-accountability.org/news2013/03_04/2013_03_12_Tomlinson_Vaticanin.htm
- Vatican purchases €23m building that houses Europe’s biggest gay sauna, Belfast Telegraph, 11 March 2013, by MICHAEL DAY IN MILAN https://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/world-news/vatican-purchases-23m-building-that-houses-europes-biggest-gay-sauna-29123076.html