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Flaws, fancy in Vatican homosexuality book



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.

Frederic Martel's book In the Closet of the VaticanMartel'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.


"One is left with the feeling that, far from being a champion of homosexual clergy, Martel's main interest is to 'out' gay clergy at the Vatican."


Serious questions, such as relating to compulsory celibacy as a condition for priestly ordination, and which he links with a homosexual Vatican, lie unaddressed in Martel's work. Instead, one is left with the feeling that, far from being a champion of homosexual clergy, Martel's main interest is to 'out' gay clergy at the Vatican.

In this crusade, Martel reserves his pith for his postscript or Epilogue, in which he alleges that in the highly restricted cauldron of subversion of Church teaching, which is the Vatican, priests are living out their amorous passions while at the same time 'renewing' gender and 'imagining' new kinds of family.

One is intrigued by what he means here, when he says the Vatican is an 'unexpected place of experimentation: new ways of living are constructed there; new emotional relationships are tried out; new models of the family of the future are explored; (and) preparations are made for the retirement of elderly homosexuals', all of these theories elaborated upon in the pages that follow and precede.

To elaborate, Martel identifies five main 'profiles' of the priesthood, none of them with any semblance of reference to the theologies that speak to vocation or priestly election but offered in a kind of Foucauldian manner, to enlighten us as to why such typologies might exist. Granted that Martel may not be a theologian, it is reasonable to expect that a journalist reporting so intensively on the alleged links between homosexuality and ordination to the celibate Catholic priesthood should have some broad recommendations to make.

For instance, the recent royal commission into reporting on the abuse of minors in Australia made several recommendations relating to compulsory celibacy as well as the clerical culture of the Catholic Church, evidently without compromising its judicial and secular remit. This kind of emancipatory dialogue between the sacred and the secular is by now well-established in contemporary journalism.

Instead, Martel's 'profiles' venture into the field of the fanciful, identifying typologies of the gay priesthood as the 'mad virgin', the 'infernal husband', the 'queen of hearts', the 'Don Juan' and 'La Mongolfiera' (or 'prostitute'). No social theorist that I am aware of would advance this typecasting classification without prior appeal to well-known and widely respected experts in the field. Martel is content in this regard with providing names of Vatican officials, both deceased and, if living, now retired, whom he evidences under each of these 'profiles'.

Even more worryingly, Martel categorises all celibates who abide by the rules as asexual, on questionable grounds that those who fall under this category exclude other closeted heterosexual clergy leading active sex lives. Clerical sex, then, is his topic du jour.

Meantime, he weaves in all aspects of theoretical legerdemain to validate his theories, including references to the decadent writer, Paul Verlaine, and the feminist sociologist, Judith Butler. Martel introduces this analytical framework to shore up a narrative that bears all the hallmarks of a conspiracy theory of the kind that first saw the light of day in the fin-de-siecle writing of the anti-Catholic fantasist, Maria Monk.

While there are undoubtedly some closeted homosexuals in the Vatican, Martel has yet to convince that there are more there than elsewhere, as well as in the world of male-only organisations. Or that they cheat on the kind of grandiose scale that he alleges; and, most important of all, what is to be done about it.



Michael FurtadoMichael Furtado is a researcher with a background in Catholic Social Teaching. He is Catholic and gay.

Topic tags: Michael Furtado, Frederic Martel, Vatican, homosexuality



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Existing comments

Martel's book was repetitive and boring. but I am still smiling at "Pamela Pell" and other camp references. Chapter on Swiss Guard was of interest. Martel wasted opportunity and resources, I was left wondering how he convinced his editor to fund such a long investigation. Repetitive and boring.

Barry | 17 June 2019  

Your review of Martel’s long and unwieldy no ok, Michael, points to shortcomings in terms of its lack of solutions or recommendations to the expose of concentrated numbers of gay clergy in the Vatican. My suggestion is to send them out to the Missions - nothing to do with gender but more about fieldwork for bureaucrats. Cardinal Raymond Burke in particular could be first out the door. As someone once said, it’ll be a great day when the Curia concert to Christianity.

PeterD | 17 June 2019  

It's great to see one of our fellow correspondents producing such a fine article. One result of the sexual abuse crisis engulfing the church, and the Catholic Church in particular, is the seemingly endless odyssey to discover 'why?' We know for certain that sexual abuse is about the misuse of power. I haven't read this book so I can only answer in general terms about Michael Furtado's review. Whether we like it or not, the Bible is straightforward about homosexuality and condemnation of it. We can talk, justly, about context and more enlightened changing attitudes. I would like to think that Christians can continue to be leaders in acceptance of diversity. And perhaps shift the thinking from below the navel to the psychological reasons why some people in positions of power use sex as a weapon.

Pam | 18 June 2019  

This book is just plain trash. Clearly. A complete joke. Don't care to read it. Nor any article critiquing it.

AO | 18 June 2019  

Very good critique, Michael. Lucifer is certainly pissed off about being booted out and in recent times appears to making one hell-of-a vindictive, unforgiving comeback, typified by unsupportive yet damagingly seductive gossip. Pity he has so many deluded supporters in the modern world who will believe anything to bring Christ and his Church on earth to heel. He lost last time around and will lose this time too, I suspect.

john frawley | 18 June 2019  

As I see it, Catholics who reject authoritative Church teaching and encourage others to do so do more harm than journalists like M. Martel (who, incidentally, must be quite pleased to see his book is receiving free publicity in "Eureka Street").

John RD | 18 June 2019  

AO’s rejection of Martel’s book is understandable: Michael’s review brings out its flaws: long, unwieldy, poorly structured, lacking a rigorous edit, a little too-focussed on outing clerical gays in the Vatican, and lacking in-depth analysis of the causes of the problem and solutions to address them. What is extraordinary about the book, however, is the size, diversity and positions of the sample group interviewed, including many cardinals. So it’s findings have some relevance for many Catholics, and would be bewildering to many of them. If there are so many gay clergy concentrated in the Vatican, why not women priests? Catholic doctrine re divorcees, contraception, annulments etc are influenced by these Vatican groups, so why not look at broader reform and more representative input from the wider church? So yes, the book is deeply flawed but its findings invite deeper reform agendas.

PeterD | 18 June 2019  

Excellent critical review of Martel, Michael. Your comparison of his work with Maria Monk was spot on. This is shoddy sensationalism to create controversy and sell the book. How sordid. I wish, just for once, the Church would look at male same sex attraction with the same Christian compassion six members of the Society of Friends did with their publication in 1957 of 'Towards a Quaker View of Sex'. That need not mean endorsing anything, but just looking at gays as people. As a matter of fact, the leaders of the Church looking at clergy removed from the halls of power as people just like themselves might do the institution the world of good.

Edward Fido | 19 June 2019  

We’ll know the Church has ceased to be in the world but not of it when the pope starts to turn up to work in the morning in a suit. Until then, there is the Church and there is, coming and going, some or other zeitgeist, the details of which, in the long run, are unimportant.

roy chen yee | 19 June 2019  

Strangely, Michael Furtado's review utterly avoids one of the most obvious reasons for the making of this book: the Catholic Church's immense power and influence over the lives of gays worldwide. The very people in Rome who would punish and condemn gays are themselves gay. This is why Martel wrote his book, to expose the double standard of those who practise their sexuality while denying its validity to everyone else. What I am saying is not new. What is new is Martel's expansive portrait of how this injustice is perpetuated, by men (they're all men) who are themselves knowlingly gay. To think this is simply a prurient exercise in Roman decadence is to miss the point. At the centre of the exercise is a social justice issue that Rome canot address and that will not go away.

M. Turing | 19 June 2019  

I read this book. I read it because it received a sympathetic and well-written review by a gay priest who believed that its publication would contribute to a healthy and much-needed dialogue within the Church. Needless to say, I was bitterly disappointed to have spent real money on such unhelpful trash. My own conspiracy theory is that the author was living in Rome collecting sensational material when his publisher saw an opportunity to make quick sales from a timely book on clergy misdoings. So Martel cobbled his fragments into an ill-written and disordered book, which was rushed into print to take advantage of the trial of a well-known Cardinal with an important role at the Vatican. Great move, if making a profit is the basic aim. Not so helpful if the upbuilding of a healthy and humble Church respectful of all its members is the aim. I learned nothing from the book. Thank you, Michael, for your review, which clarified my formless objections to the whole thing. It’s not important to review trash; but it is important to review trash that will be used and disseminated widely by the many who are less interested in Church reform than in Church destruction.

Joan Seymour | 21 June 2019  

I remain intrigued by our collective Catholic pussyfooting about what seems, to me, a principal agent (if not the main one) of the terrible dysfunction that has overwhelmed us: namely, the centuries-long legacy of profound sexual guilt, engendered by the church's dogmatic excoriation of carnality. This is a fundamental matter in that a presumably irreversible dogma, based on prescientific understandings of what Creation is for, fetches up against a vastly different and frankly more genuinely human understanding of sexuality. There is at least one truly non-discriminatory aspect to formal church teaching on sex: ANY sexual action AT ALL outside the marriage bed is held to be equally sinful. Auto-, hetero- or homosexual fornication, there isn't any qualitative difference; they're all Hell material. Or are they? Until the church gets over its paranoia about countermanding magisterial precedents when the primacy of human dignity clearly demands it, this is not going away. And sensationalist axes will continue to be assiduosly ground by the Martels within the public sphere (their implicit resentment simply reveals the inevitable fruits of the oppressive guilt I cited above) We are sexual beings. At that, we are not that different from the "notorious" bonobos among which sexuality is also a companionable social glue, not just an offspring machine. What makes our choices of behaviour (universally, not only in sex) radically different from bonobos is Kant's imperative not to exploit another person as a means, but always see them as an end in themselves: an individual with an inalienable dignity. It's the Englightment's restatement of what we read in the Gospels, in which Jesus comes across far less obsessed over sexuality, and far more about the ethics of exploitation and betrayal, than we his doctrinally fixated disciples.

Fred Green | 21 June 2019  

M. Turing's post impels me to reply annotatively in circumstances I would ordinarily avoid in an authorial piece. My responses: a) ' The very people in Rome who would punish and condemn gays are themselves gay'. I went to Martel's website, called 'Sodom', and found there a rehash of his accusations. This doesn't meet any test of empirical evidence that I know. b) 'This is why Martel wrote his book, to expose the double standard of those who practise their sexuality while denying its validity to everyone else'. I assumed that too, until I checked Martel's sources and found them unsubstantiated. c) 'What is new is Martel's expansive portrait of how this injustice is perpetuated, by men (they're all men) who are themselves knowlingly (sic)gay.' This was my first reaction to the book but I couldn't in good conscience write a review of the book unless I knew Martel's revelations to be true. d) 'To think this is simply a prurient exercise in Roman decadence is to miss the point. At the centre of the exercise is a social justice issue that Rome canot (sic)address and that will not go away'. This is also my view as a 'social justician'.

Michael Furtado | 21 June 2019  

Bravissimo, Fred Green! When he interviewed me for a position in his diocese, Francis Rush, Archbishop of Brisbane, led me to his library at Wynberg and pulled out a copy of Carl Rogers' book on child psychology. A denizen of Vatican II, +Rush said he had recently attended the Australian Conference of Religious Education, held in Brisbane (1985). He indicated he had winced at the title of a workshop of mine, "Religious Education as a form of Child Abuse'' but that every word he heard there had convinced him that the Church had advocated every measure of human control, including harsh discipline and corporal punishment, except to explore the link between the human and the divine, which he identified as the essential message of Vatican II. Your post here beautifully and terrifying restates the ongoing challenge that those who dare to follow the teachings of Jesus face in view of the stultifying opposition and fear of some in these columns. In the months ahead, it is likely that Australian Catholics will have to face a choice between an open entelechy towards our teaching of human sexuality and a legislated return to a fortress mentality. It'll be time indeed to choose!

Michael Furtado | 21 June 2019  

Fred Green. Does the "primacy of human dignity", a poetic construct of unknown origins to which you refer, over-ride the primacy of God's word? It would seem to me that such a situation is only possible when Humanity replaces God and His creation with an atheistic philosophy.

john frawley | 21 June 2019  

Thanks Michael. I don’t see how saying ' The very people in Rome who would punish and condemn gays are themselves gay' is corrected or rebuked by citing Martel’s website and its lack of empirical evidence. Martel had to protect his sources. The book itself is a time-bomb in Roman politics. Many in Rome will recognise who he’s talking about, people whose friends are stratospheric lawyers. I imagine Martel would prefer to keep his feet on the ground, rather than spend the rest of his life in the stratosphere. If anything, its tedious length adds to the book’s credibility as a document of extensive research. Substantiation could come with hefty legal actions. His own annotated copy is probably kept in the vault of a Swiss bank. My apologies for occasionally hitting the sic key on my keyboard.

M. Turing | 21 June 2019  

Fred Green, "the Kantian imperative", a moral category, is only possible because we human beings possess a soul, the rational and volitional powers of which distinguish it from bonbobos and all other forms of animal life. The human soul reflects God, its Maker, and this relationship is the basis of both its nature and dignity. Catholic teaching on sexuality, contrary to your assertion that its "magisterial precedents" undermine "the primacy of human dignity", serves to remind us that our sexuality is not merely a human invention subject to arbitrary manipulation that fails to recognize its powers and purposes in relation to one another and its Creator.

John RD | 22 June 2019  

(A better answer, you can erase the previous one) I profoundly believe in freedom of expression and people can write whatever they want about my book. However, when I review a book, I discuss it in all aspects, not just the introduction and the conclusion, as if I have read just that. The chapters on JPII, Chile, Benedict, containts thousands of proofs and no one insinuation ! And the debate on proofs is a fake debate, as discussed here https://syndicate.network/symposia/theology/in-the-closet-of-the-vatican/#catholics-dont-like-the-truth I don't think your review is very honest, and I don't think it is based on the reading of the book. Frédéric Martel

FREDERIC MARTEL | 23 June 2019  

Michael Furtado, your endorsement of an "open entelechy on our teaching of sexuality" is vague. Is it based on the premise that human sexuality is fluid and simply a subjective construction? If so, many Catholic parents would be justifiably concerned. So also, I believe, would the Vatican's "Congregation for Catholic Education" which has recently chosen, in presenting two contrasting alternatives - "a Christian pedagogy" and "anthropologies characterised by fragmentation and provisionality" (Male and Female He Created Them . . .. 55) - to reaffirm traditional Catholic teaching on human sexuality.

John RD | 23 June 2019  

FREDERIC MARTEL. The leading question asked of all authors by their publishers and subsequently at launches, promotions, press interviews etc is "Why did you write this book?" What is your answer to that question? It would be helpful to hear that answer.

john frawley | 23 June 2019  

M. Martel, Your book is too sensational to dismiss on the basis of reading bits of it. I researched it recently while in Rome and Naples and have several witnesses to that end. While there is no doubt that some Vatican clerics lead a life that is worldly and perhaps effete, it cannot be deduced from this that they are actively homosexual, which is the point of your thesis. When you add the observation that these are the same people who condemn and persecute homosexuals globally, one expects to read a spirited defence of this phenomenon, described, say, in terms of the Stockholm syndrome, which helps explain why a closeted homosexual person might be homophobic. You haven't done that, but instead appear to have latched onto Pope Francis's warning about the dangers of sexual hypocrisy in the Church as pointing to hypocritical gaps in the homophobic discourse of gay prelates. I think the Pope is on about something far more important, which is to proclaim Church tradition while emphasising the importance of free-will and conscientious, well-informed, decision-making. Tragically, the debate that Catholics are having at this time isn't helped by your spectacular theorising. Your's could have been a better book.

Michael Furtado | 24 June 2019  

FMartel provides clues in the Prologue about why he wrote this book: ‘…Pope Francis’s desire for reform have freed people’s tongues. Social networks, more courage on the part of the press, and countless ecclesiastical sex scandals have made it possible, and necessary, to reveal this secret today.’ ‘The intimate stories of these men who give an image of piety in public and lead a quite different life in private, so different from one another, presents us with a complex intrigue to unravel. Never, perhaps, have the appearance of an institution been so deceptive; and equally deceptive are the pronouncements about celibacy and the vows of chastity that conceal a completely different reality.’ It’s ‘not a matter of judging these homosexuals…….but of understanding their secret and collective way of life.’ ‘The gay dimension doesn’t explain everything, of course, but it is key for anyone wishing to understand the Vatican and its moral postures.’ Pope Francis is embattled ‘against all those who use sexual morality and homophobia to conceal their own hypocrisies and double lives….these secret homosexuals are in the majority, powerful and influential and, in terms of the most ‘rigid’ among them, very noisy in their homophobic utterances.’

PeterD | 24 June 2019  

The question of Martel's credibility residing with the courts, and in respect of which M. Turing speculates that Martel has been over-careful of incriminating himself for fear of breach of the laws of libel and defamation, simply doesn't arise. I checked with a colleague, a Distinguished Professor of the Law School at the University of Bologna, who said that Martel's position, admitted by him in these very columns, would be part of the ordinary everyday appeal of journalists, which would go to freedom of expression. Add to that the fact that it is no longer illegal to be a homosexual in most of the jurisdictions to which Martel's targets belong, and they would stand a very poor chance of successful prosecutions to be brought against him. In his view, Tesi added that both Martel and his publishers, Bloomsberry, stood to benefit a great deal more financially from the meteoric boost to sales that Martel's book has triggered than the threat, suggested by Turing, of retaliation. In my view, this emphasises the critical role that truth must play in serving the higher cause of justice, a point made by the Royal Commission. PeterD's second post addresses Martel's 'reform' implications insightfully here.

Michael Furtado | 24 June 2019  

John RD, Catholic schools already enrol, either by design or accident, several children who do not conform to the kind of biologistic norms that you prefer. As such, school counsellors and psychologists, who professionally subscribe to an ethical code that does not regard homosexuality as abnormal or a medical illness, are at the forefront of safeguarding the privacy and well-being of such students, as well as ensuring that protective behaviours are set in place to ensure that the rights of such students are respected. I know several Catholic schools in the Brisbane Archdiocese that have explicit policies and practices in this regard that work well, including especially anti-bullying policies, as part and parcel of their pastoral care programs. To your other points, the guidelines and advice of the Congregation for Catholic Education can only be operationalised through education, awareness and consultation. I know this from my work in social justice! Didacticism that rejects the reality of gendered differences that do not precisely overlay biological distinctions of male and female simply do not always work in practice and some give and take is called for, much in the same way that Catholic schools enrol the disabled and children of the divorced.

Michael Furtado | 26 June 2019  

This forum discussion has been put to bed but some uncomfortable, critical issues are still unresolved and extend to the Vatical at the highest levels. Charles Lamb ['The Tablet' - July 6] states: ‘For many conservative Catholics – especially in the US – the real demon in the Church is homosexuality, and this, they argue, is behind the clerical sex abuse crisis. Martel’s point is that it is not homosexuality but “the lie about the sexuality of priests, the concealment of the majority of the clergy’s repressed or active homosexuality, and the organised cover-up of these lies” that is at the root of the abuse crisis in the Church. However, conservative Catholics have seized on Martel’s book..... Martel reported that Bannon told him during their encounter that, “if the majority of bishops are either homophile or gay”, there are “no solutions to change the Church without changing profoundly her doctrine on celibacy, chastity and marriage”. Bannon...clarified.. he does not believe married priests are the solution to the vocations crisis or the abuse scandal. But Burke said he found it “objectionable” for Bannon to call into question “the Church’s discipline of perpetual continence for the clergy”.’

PeterD | 04 July 2019  

Its hard to make sense of PeterD's impassioned quotation from The Tablet. Granted that homophobes in the Church blame homosexuals for the Church's terrible record of hiding clerical child abuse - a link that has been disproven through breaking the nexus between homosexuality and paedophilia - it must surely follow that Catholic homophiles like Pope Francis ("Who am I to judge?") are not denying that priests, whether celibate or not, are sexed persons, and that the real issue for those in breach of their vows is the matter of hypocrisy or double standards that are evident among so many clergy. How Martel, The Tablet and PeterD can then conclude that it is not homosexuality but “the lie about the sexuality of priests, the concealment of the majority of the clergy’s repressed or active homosexuality, and the organised cover-up of these lies” that is at the root of the abuse crisis in the Church" defies logic. The issue of optional clerical celibacy, while indeed a critical one for Catholics, has no connection, other than in the manifestly unexplained workings of Martel's mind, with child abuse. Martel has sought to exonerate himself from unintentionally developing an unsubstantiated hypothesis that sides with homophobes.

Michael Furtado | 09 July 2019  

Hi Michael: In your original review of Martel's book and in subsequent comments, we have many points of agreement. Frederic also stated in the book that he met with many gay priests and that he enjoyed his meetings with them, as well as the risks they took and the honesty of their responses. My position is not theologically sophisticated and it not really focused on gay priests in the Vatican. It is what I would call a simple pub test. In many parishes around the world, if the concentration of gay priests is disproportionate in the Vatican, many ordinary Catholics would, I believe, be concerned. Why not, then, they might argue, be more diverse and include more females, married people, voluntary celibate priests etc. What about the way divorcees are treated, sexuality is presented in Catholic doctrine, the shameful way the Church has protected clergy and religious as the expense of sexual abuse victims etc The simple and positive point I am making is that this book, along with recent events, can be a catalyst for reform in the Church - making things better for new generations of Catholics; opening up the shutters to winds of change!

PeterD | 10 July 2019  

A point well made, Peter! I cannot but agree with that. Thanks!

Michael Furtado | 10 July 2019  

Now that PeterD has succeeded in resurrecting some unresolved critical issues to do with Frederic Martel's allegations about the existence of widespread homosexuality at the Vatican, this topic cannot be put to bed. If Martel is right, it must follow that a praxis theology, accounting for the everyday reality of homosexual attraction as part of human life, not simply in the global population at large but also within the Church, must impact on Catholic theology. This has immense implications for systematic theology to which Martel makes but one reference in his book, viz. in his disdain for the fact that Thomism underpins such an immense aspect of Catholic theology in regard to human love and relationship. Not only that: the entire foundation of that critical body of theology called Catholic Social Teaching is underpinned by St Thomas Aquinas' Natural Law philosophy. I would invite comment from those better versed in this than myself about the ramifications for advancing Thomist thinking to critically account for new knowledge and new revelation in this area of human experience and relationship, without prejudicing the colossal gift that Leo XIII gave to Catholics in his attribution to Aquinas of the principles of Catholic Social Teaching.

Michael Furtado | 11 July 2019  

Michael: your invitation to advance Catholic theological thinking in this area is an important outcome of this discussion, and one that will hopefully find momentum in many Catholic forums around the world, as well as in reform agendas at the highest levels in the Church.

PeterD | 12 July 2019  

I’m glad that Michael Furtado says that he read the entire book, because his review left me with the distinct impression that he had skipped large sections of it. For example: he scorns the title of Frederic Martel's website that is associated with the book, sodoma.fr. Yet, in the book it is explained that Sodoma was a slang term used by some gay inhabitants to describe the Vatican (hence the use of that title in non-English speaking countries). Martel promises in the book that there are 300 pages of extra reading at the website, but it isn’t there in the English language section as yet. I would have thought that Furtado would have picked up on that as part of his general denigration. Furtado has researched Martel’s claims while in Rome and Naples, which is useful. How does that compare to Martel’s four years of investigation with a team of 80 researchers, interviewing nearly 1500 people in 30 countries? They spoke with 41 cardinals, 52 bishops and archbishops and 45 apostolic nuncios.

BarryH | 17 July 2019  

Let's suppose, BarryH, that Martel is right about so many senior members of the Vatican, being homosexual, either by desire or action. If that is so (and why shouldn't it be so?) Martel's thesis is to accuse the Vatican of hypocrisy, as if an admission of such a proclivity would lift the burden for gay Catholics of centuries of moral prohibition. If only that were likely to wipe away the guilt and opprobrium of gayness on our collective cultural identity, making it able at one fell stroke of the pontifical pen to enable all Catholics, gay and straight, to set aside what Martel argues is no more than a quirk of nature, and to get on with living lives of virtue in every other respect. The problem here, surely, is that we are all disfigured in one way or another, whether we are straight or gay. How would such a realisation advance the case that Martel makes against presumed hypocrisy and in favour of openness? I cannot easily deduce that the equal treatment of women, inside and beyond the Church, would be advanced by such an altered and more 'honest' position. Nor might it advance the case for women/married priests.

Michael Furtado | 05 August 2019  

And, to answer my own question by way of helping to draw this discussion to a close: the institutional Church has long been a haven for gay men, not simply, as Martel suggests, as an escape from marriage, but also as a haven from a world in which we have been bullied and poured scorn on. Granted that the Church should always have a special option for the poor, this past affinity in youth ministry has evidently sown the seeds for the development of a culture that has been known about and tolerated in many instances of clerical hebephilia and ephebophilia. The various orders and congregations catering to the education of homeless and impoverished youth, such as the Salesians, are a case in point. Martel doesn't address this but cites interviews with "Swiss Guards propositioned by elderly bejewelled clerics". While it all makes for a titillating read, Martel himself admits that such behaviour remains firmly embedded in a cultural context that speaks of little more than favouritism and platonic affection. In my judgment, the Royal Commission has a far more credible and pertinent take on sexual abuse in all-male religious settings catering for children than Martel's lurid and fanciful account.

Michael Furtado | 08 August 2019  

I just finished reading the book and after reading it I love the Church all the more. I am sad and sorry for mr. Frederic Martel. To me he is the saddest person of the book. After all the effort, huge work, much time spent the book seems to be a huge gossip. I am worried and sad for the future of France and the future of mr. Martel. The Church of France is France. The end of the book confirms that mr. Martel is still a child of the Church and he even loves the Church. After all in the future the book will bring some good frouts for the Holy Church because in some absurd way it challenges. In different times the Corona virus comes in different ways.

Svetozar Kraljevic | 21 March 2020  

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