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VATICAN CITY (LifeSiteNews) — Pope Francis’ reported recent criticism of too much “faggotry” in seminaries comes amid a reported power struggle between Italian bishops and the Vatican but also highlights the long-standing homosexual subculture endemic in many seminaries. 

The now international quasi-scandal is that Pope Francis is alleged to have used the term “faggotry” when speaking with members of the Italian Episcopal Conference (CEI) during their reportedly closed-door meeting on May 20 – though the Daily Compass reported that priests, lay people and journalists were also present at the time.

But what is less highlighted is the context in which Francis’ remarks came about, and even less concentrated on is the uncomfortable truth that Francis – easily the most visibly pro-LGBT pontiff ever – has highlighted, namely the predominance of homosexuality among the clergy.

‘Faggotry’ in seminaries: how it came to be uttered

The widely read Italian daily gossip paper Dagospia reported on May 27 that Francis said “in the Church, there is too much of an atmosphere of faggotry.” Dagospia claimed that he also said that bishops must, therefore, “get all the queers (checche) out of the seminaries, even those only semi-oriented.”

The alleged papal comments came in response to questions raised by the CEI about admitting homosexual men to Catholic seminaries. But it is not as simple as a bishop benignly asking his pontiff about whether homosexuals might be admitted to seminaries – for indeed, the Church has consistently taught that they cannot. 

Since November 2023, the CEI has been waiting for the Vatican’s Dicastery (formerly Congregation) for Clergy to approve a new document governing the formation of men for the priesthood in Italian seminaries. That document is understood to make an argument to officially allow homosexuals into seminaries, attesting that seminary admission officials should differentiate between homosexual orientation and the practice of homosexual behavior when admitting men to formation. 

Citing its well-placed sources within the CEI meeting, Italian blog Messa in Latino reported that Francis’ use of the term “faggotry” came in direct response to being pushed about this document. The Congregation for Clergy has yet to approve it, yet certain more pro-LGBT Italian bishops are keen to have the new pro-homosexual guidelines approved.

Messa in Latino reported that it was Rimini’s pro-LGBT Bishop Nicolò Anselmi who asked Francis during the CEI meeting about admitting homosexuals to the seminary.

Francis has been notable in his own promotion of key LGBT activists and has famously made numerous pro-LGBT demonstrations of his own, and as such Anselmi would likely have been confident of receiving a favorable reply. Francis has also raised to key positions in the Church a number of prelates encircled in homosexual scandals or who have become the leading champions of LGBT causes within the Vatican. 

As if to bolster Francis’ pro-homosexual image, notably pro-LGBT Italian Bishop Francesco Savino argued that the Pope’s comments were not anti-homosexual but merely intended to portray his wish that priests should “be capable of living well their promises with respect to obedience, poverty and chastity.”

Indeed, commenting on Francis’ record, the Daily Compass’ Luisella Scrosati stated that Francis “is not bothered that certain moral problems exist among the clergy, but that they are coming out into the open.”

But despite his LGBT support, Francis is reported to have rebuffed Anselmi’s attempt to strong-arm the Pope into supporting the CEI’ campaign against the Congregation for Clergy. Why so?

Papal biographers and astute observers of Francis before his ascent to the papal throne – such as Henry Sire – have opined and observed that Francis clings above all to power. In his explosive work The Dictator Pope, Henry Sire recounted firsthand testimonies describing the then-Father and later Cardinal Bergoglio as always desirous of the “pursuit of power,” and being “power obsessed.”

Quoting the Spanish journalist Francisco José de La Cigoña’s words about the general perception of Cardinal Bergoglio in the late 2000s, Sire wrote: “However much he (Bergoglio) may work carefully to impress everyone with the appearance of a plaster saint, austere and mortified, he is a man with a mentality of power.”

Unsurprising therefore that Francis – perceiving an attempt by a bishop to exert pressure on him in front of the entire Italian episcopate, and thus finding his authority threatened – would hit back by making a remark about there already being too much “faggotry” in seminaries, providing the reports of such comments are true, which numerous sources are suggesting they are. 

Messa in Latino‘s sources supported this, attesting that the papal comments came with “evidently angry tones of Pope Francis, who found himself besieged on both fronts.”

Homosexuals in seminaries? The rules

The Catholic Church prohibits admitting homosexuals into seminaries. The Vatican’s 2005 document on the admission of people with “homosexual tendencies” to seminaries stated that “the Church, while profoundly respecting the persons in question, cannot admit to the seminary or to holy orders those who practice homosexuality, presented deep-seated homosexual tendencies, or support the so-called ‘gay culture.’”

While those with “a transitory problem” of suffering “homosexual tendencies” could be admitted, the Holy See wrote that such tendencies must be “clearly overcome at least three years before ordination to the diaconate.”

This was then reaffirmed by the Vatican’s Congregation for Clergy in the December 2016 document “The Gift of the Priestly Vocation,” that heavily quoted from the teachings of the 2005 text.

Commenting on this phrase of “deep-seated” tendencies, Msgr. Tony Anatrella from the Pontifical Council for the Family and the Pastoral of Health Care, wrote in 2005 that:

On the other hand, candidates that present a “deeply-seated homosexual tendency,” that means an exclusive attraction with regard to persons of the same sex (a structural orientation) – independently of whether or not they’ve had erotic experiences – They cannot be admitted into seminary nor have access to sacred Orders.

Homosexuals in seminaries? The reality

Notwithstanding the Church’s rules, increasing numbers of media reports over recent years have served to highlight how the issue of homosexuals not merely entering the seminary but proceeding to ordination has continued. 

While rumors of “gay lobby” are often dismissed by critics, a number of prominent prelates have given considerable credence to the real problem of such widespread pro-homosexual attitudes or lifestyles within the Church’s clergy or seminaries. 

Indeed, the late Pope Benedict XVI famously noted in his contribution to the Vatican’s 2019 sex abuse summit that homosexual groups were historically prominent in seminaries. “In various seminaries, homosexual cliques were established, which acted more or less openly and significantly changed the climate in the seminaries,” he wrote. 

READ: Benedict said what Vatican abuse summit dared not: ‘Homosexual cliques’ ruined seminaries

Speaking to LifeSite’s Dr. Maike Hickson in 2018, former CDF Prefect Cardinal Gerhard Müller also pointed to the existence of “homosexual network,” saying “that (Theodore) McCarrick, together with his clan and a homosexual network, was able to wreak havoc in a mafia-like manner in the Church is connected with the underestimation of the moral depravity of homosexual acts among adults.”

The McCarrick case is the stuff of international scandal, a prominent example of a predating cleric acting out a homosexual lifestyle. On its own, it serves to demonstrate the unquantifiable danger of allowing homosexuals into seminaries and into the ranks of the clergy. Other cases are less well known but provide examples of a widespread issue. 

Ireland’s national seminary of Maynooth was for many years famously embroiled in a deep-rooted homosexual subculture. Orthodox seminarians attempting to blow the whistle on homosexual activity were effectively evicted. Fr. David Marsden, a former professor at Maynooth, also left in 2016 after he realized that an unmovable “homosexual network exists among seminary council and spiritual directors.” Members of the “gay” group felt no compunction about revealing themselves to be sexually active, said Marsden at the time. 

READ: Homosexual ‘cesspool’: Priest blows whistle on Ireland’s national seminary

Moving back to England’s Oscott seminary, Marsden was subsequently fired from his position there also. The priest stated he was fired in 2018 after attempting to pronounce Catholic teaching on homosexuality and opposing the inclusion of openly homosexual seminarians in the formation.

Pointing to openly homosexual seminarians, spiritual directors and pro-homosexual bishops as part of the wider problem, Marsden stated that “the homosexual cabal operating in the Catholic Church exists at the very highest level and even incriminates Pope Francis himself.” Oscott seminary officials disputed Marsden’s account.

READ: Why dealing with abuse crisis means rediscovering the purpose of priesthood

Additionally in 2018, former U.S. Papal Nuncio Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò issued the third of his groundbreaking public statements in which he clearly pointed to widespread homosexuality in the clergy as a direct cause of sexual abuse. Writing in light of his accusations Francis rehabilitated Theodore McCarrick while knowing of his homosexual predations, Viganò stated: 

This is a crisis due to the scourge of homosexuality, in its agents, in its motives, in its resistance to reform. It is no exaggeration to say that homosexuality has become a plague in the clergy, and it can only be eradicated with spiritual weapons. It is an enormous hypocrisy to condemn the abuse, claim to weep for the victims, and yet refuse to denounce the root cause of so much sexual abuse: homosexuality.

It is hypocrisy to refuse to acknowledge that this scourge is due to a serious crisis in the spiritual life of the clergy and to fail to take the steps necessary to remedy it.

“The underlying reason why there are so many victims” is “the corrupting influence of homosexuality in the priesthood and in the hierarchy,” the former nuncio attested, commenting on the link between homosexual clergy and clerical abuse.

Just this week, pro-LGBT Father James Martin, SJ stated that in his years as a priest he has “known hundreds” of “celibate” homosexual clerics. Fr. Dariusz Oko, a Polish priest, professor and author of With the Pope Against Homoheresy, estimated that “about 30%-40% of priests and 40%-50% of bishops in the USA have homosexual inclinations” and previously told LifeSiteNews that half or more of them “at least periodically may commit serious abuses.”

READ: Sex-abuse crisis in US Catholic Church is about homosexuality, not pedophilia: EWTN panel

Indeed, despite the unwillingness of many high-ranking officials to link homosexuality to the clerical abuse crisis, campaigners have consistently argued that data inescapably links abuse to homosexuality. Speaking on EWTN in 2018, international child rights attorney Liz Yore cited the John Jay report noting that “largely it’s not a pedophile crisis. We know from the John Jay report, 81 percent of the victims were males, mostly teens. And we know because our subclass of predators are all male, this is a male-on-male crime, and primarily with teens between the ages of 14 to 17. Those are the victims.”

READ: INTERVIEW: Cdl. Müller on abuse crisis and its link to homosexuality in priesthood  

As part of his 2018 interview with Dr. Hickson, Müller also related clerical homosexuality with abuse: “It is part of the crisis that one does not wish to see the true causes and covers them up with the help of propaganda phrases of the homosexual lobby.”

“Fornication with teenagers and adults is a mortal sin which no power on earth can declare to be morally neutral,” he said. 

Amid the outrage breaking on various sides of the divide within the Church over Francis’ alleged use of the term “faggotry,” there lies a more central issue.

Leave aside the fact that Francis reportedly used a somewhat offensive term, for his biographers already attest he is accustomed to using such language; leave aside the fact he appeared to be defending Church teaching, for actions speak louder than words, even words leaked from a meeting; for intentionally or not, Francis highlighted one of the greatest crisis of the Church – one which he has arguably helped to blossom – namely, the predominance of homosexuality within the clergy and the hierarchy.