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Flaws, fancy in Vatican homosexuality book

  • 14 June 2019


The gay journalist, Frederic Martel, visited Australia recently, publicising a sensational book on the Vatican, which he describes as teeming with closeted homosexuals, including several priests, bishops and cardinals.

Martel's work cannot be ignored because it is published at a time when the Church is engulfed by several sexual scandals of global magnitude. Reviewing Martel's book provides an opportunity to critically examine the narratives of accusation and defence that surround such terrifying accounts, so that onlookers can make sense and judgement of them.

Martel's views about a majority of celibates working in the Vatican being active homosexuals are backed up by evidence published on his website, sodoma.fr. The choice of this appellation is evidently not enough to set alarm bells ringing for his many reviewers, many of whom have embraced his accusations with the kind of enthusiasm that does their other, more considered, work an injustice.

While it is accepted that the sensational aspects of Martel's writing style may have elements of truth as well as assist his sales, his analysis doesn't include serious reflection on what is to be done about the 'problem', as he sees it, of such widespread priestly homosexuality, and just as pertinently, why it might exist.

Here Martel's book demonstrates its second flaw. He has no analysis or solution to offer, other than, presumably, the exposure of the 'hypocrisy' that he reveals and excoriates. And 'hypocrisy' for him is to be exposed at every juncture in the left-straight versus right-gay split that divides the Catholic Church.

Martel seeks here to side with a left-straight Church, led by Pope Francis, and condemn the right-gay conservative faction, led by Emeritus Pope Benedict, described by him as a closeted homosexual. Yet very little explanation is offered by Martel for why some popes, like Paul VI and Francis, are regarded as 'leftish' on social justice questions, but conservative (in Paul VI's case) and at best neutral (in Francis's instance) on some contemporary sexual questions.

Since it is the shame and condemnation of homosexual desire and action that has in the past drawn so many into the closet, Martel's presumed lifting of the veil of deceit is intended to generate a kind of moderating corrective, if not on the behaviour of these potentates, then on the papacy itself which, in full knowledge of their practices, he insists, has tolerated homosexual behaviour in the Vatican.


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