Did a ’Gay Lobby’ Pressure Pope to Resign?
It may seem odd that Pope Benedict XVI suddenly decided to resign -- the first pope to do so in over 600 years. Although he cited health issues, speculation is rife that there was more behind the resignation than just old age and poor health.
An Italian newspaper is claiming that the reason for the unprecedented resignation is not because of declining health but because of a secret "gay lobby" within the Vatican, the Irish Times reports.
According to La Repubblica, Benedict, 85, called it quits last month because of a report that accused Vatican officials of being under the influence of a number of lobbies within the Holy See, including a gay lobby. There is a report, which was commissioned by the pope soon after the Vatileaks scandal that made headlines last year.
The three cardinals who wrote the report allegedly uncovered "various lobbies within the Holy See were consistently breaking" the sixth and seventh commandments: "Thou shalt not commit adultery" and "thou shalt not steal." The sixth commandment references adultery but is linked to Catholic doctrine that condemns homosexual behavior.
The cardinals' report is nearly 300 pages and will be given to the pope's successor after he is elected. Milan-based national Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera called the report's conclusions "disturbing."
Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi released only a vague statement in response to the paper's allegations. As quoted in British national newspaper the Guardian, Lombardi said, "Neither the cardinals' commission nor I will make comments to confirm or deny the things that are said about this matter. Let each one assume his or her own responsibilities. We shall not be following up on the observations that are made about this." Lombardi lambasted the media for creating "tension that is the opposite of what the pope and the church want."
This isn't the first time La Repubblica has broken gay scandals inside the secretive world of the Vatican. As the Guardian noted, in 2007 a senior official was suspended after an Italian television program, in a sting operation, filmed him making sexual advances he had made to a young man. Three years later, a chorister was fired for allegedly being involved in a gay prostitute ring.
On Feb. 11, Pope Benedict shocked Roman Catholics when he suddenly announced that he resign effective Feb. 28. That immediately set off speculation as to the next pope. High-ranking Catholic prelates began lobbying to become the bishop of Rome and leader of the worldwide church.
It's not surprising that speculation has focused on Africa, where the church has been defying its decline in the rest of the world. African Catholicism has been exploding in recent years as a result of the continent's political and social instability, the church's charity work and fervent spiritualism. Ghanaian Cardinal Peter Turkson, the African front-runner, supports Uganda's controversial "Kill the Gays Bill" and other anti-gay legislations in Africa.