The National Catholic Review

Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi is refusing to comment on a "private meeting," but Pope Francis is being quoted by a number of European media outlets, including AFP (Agence France Presse), as confirming the existence of a "gay lobby" inside the Vatican that he suggests may be among the targets of a newly formed special commission on curial reform. "In the Curia, there are holy people, truly holy people, but there is also a current of corruption," the pope said, according to a transcript of a June 6 audience with CLAR, the Latin American and Caribbean Confederation of Religious.

Days before Pope Benedict's historic decision to retire in February, Italian media reported that a dossier prepared by a committee of Vatican investigators included reports of corruption and blackmail attempts against gay Vatican clergy as well as favoritism based on gay relationships. "There is talk of a 'gay lobby' and it's true, it exists. We have to see what can be done," Pope Francis said, according to the transcript. The June 6 transcript was posted at the website for Reflection and Liberation and translated by another website, Rorate Caeli.

According to the transcript, Pope Francis added:

The reform of the Roman Curia is something that almost all cardinals asked for in the congregations preceding the conclave. I also asked for it. I cannot promote the reform myself, these matters of administration... I am very disorganized, I have never been good at this. But the cardinals of the Commission will move it forward. There is Rodríguez Maradiaga, who is Latin American, who is in front of it, there is Errázuriz, they are very organized. The one from Munich is also very organized. They will move it forward. Pray for me... that I make the least possible mistakes.

Though the Vatican has not confirmed that the transcript indeed reflects what Pope Francis told the CLAR representatives who attended the audience, papal watchers say the blunt comments certainly reflect the pope's off-the-cuff style and revisit some themes he has previously discussed. Photos of the audience have been released by L'Osservatore Romano. R&L reports that in an hour long conversation the pope told the members of CLAR "don't be afraid," urging them to remain willing to take risks and to "open doors." R&L reports that he said: "Courage! Advance towards new horizons! Do not be afraid to run risks going to the poor, and to new emerging subjects in the continent.

They will make mistakes, they will make a blunder, this will pass! Perhaps even a letter [from the CDF] will arrive for you, telling you that you said such or such thing... But do not worry. Explain whatever you have to explain, but move forward... Open the doors, do something there where life calls for it. I would rather have a church that makes mistakes for doing something than one that gets sick for being closed up...

According to the transcript, Pope Francis also expressed concerns about the property and money management of congregations that are growing older without attracting new vocations and urged the CLAR members to "enjoy this moment that we live in the Congregation for Consecrated Life... It is a moment of sunshine." According to the transcript, he also spoke of "restorationist" and Gnostic "currents" in the church: 

I share with you two concerns. One is the Pelagian current that there is in the church at this moment. There are some restorationist groups. I know some, it fell upon me to receive them in Buenos Aires. And one feels as if one goes back 60 years! Before the Council... One feels in 1940... An anecdote, just to illustrate this, it is not to laugh at it, I took it with respect, but it concerns me; when I was elected, I received a letter from one of these groups, and they said: "Your Holiness, we offer you this spiritual treasure: 3,525 rosaries." Why don't they say, 'we pray for you, we ask...', but this thing of counting... And these groups return to practices and to disciplines that I lived through - not you, because you are not old - to disciplines, to things that in that moment took place, but not now, they do not exist today...

The second [concern] is for a Gnostic current. Those Pantheisms... Both are elite currents, but this one is of a more educated elite... I heard of a superior general that prompted the sisters of her congregation to not pray in the morning, but to spiritually bathe in the cosmos, things like that... They concern me because they ignore the incarnation! And the Son of God became our flesh, the Word was made flesh, and in Latin America we have flesh abundantly! What happens to the poor, their pains, this is our flesh...

Of his own stlyle as pontiff and the various gestures and comments he has made which have excited attention from Catholics and nonCatholics alike, Pope Francis purportedly remarked:

These gestures... they have not come from me. They have not occurred to me. It is not as if I had brought a plan, nor that I have made one myself once elected. I do it because I felt this was what the Lord wanted. But these gestures are not mine, there is Someone else here... this gives me confidence. I came [to Rome] only with the necessary clothes, I washed them at night, and suddenly this... And I did not have any chance! In the London betting houses I was in 44th place, look at that, the one who bet on me won a lot, of course...! This does not come from me...

UPDATE: Officials from CLAR have apologized for the posting of the "transcript" of their organization's meeting with Pope Francis. They explain in a statement released June 11 that no recording was made of the meeting and that the posted material cannot be described as a verbatim text, but represents a synthesis of the dialogue based on the recollections of the participants.


Bill Mazzella | 6/15/2013 - 11:45pm

We have known for a long time that there is a lot of intrigue in the Vatican. Strangely enough John Cornwall (Hitler's Pope) documented this is his much neglected book that was actually commissioned by the Vatican. It was called "A Thief in the NIght." Cornwall satisfied the Vatican's need to prove that John Paul I was not murdered. At the same time he gave us a rare insider view of the jealousy and politics of the Vatican. If we understand this we can understand how Francis is not relating to the politics and rivalries but rather proclaiming the gospel. This is why there will be words issuing from the Vatican with the pope's approval while he had nothing to do with them. Study the issue of Veterum Sapientiae (on the need for Latin) where the Curia had John XXIII trump it in public while he in no way agreed. This is why Jesus generally did not counter the nonsense of the Pharisees and Scribes. Rather he directed all to the essence: "The blind see, the lame walk and the poor have the gospel preached to them. "

Gregory Lynch | 6/13/2013 - 12:25pm

In my opinion, the interesting aspects of the transcript are not the off-handed reference to the "gay lobby", but the emphasis on spreading the Gospel message and attentiveness to the poor. Pope Francis certainly downplays any potential wrist-slapping by the Congregation of the Doctrine of Faith (CDF) which is very useful insights as to the proper role of the CDF (which I believe that Pope Emeritus Benedict had also, as evidenced by his very different tone and style as head of CDF and as Pope).

Greg Lynch

Michael Barberi | 6/13/2013 - 7:10pm

Gregory Lynch,

I can't imagine how you can state that Cardinal Ratzinger, as prefect of the CDF, did not do wrist-slapping and much worse. He endorsed the philosophy and governance style of JP II. Anyone who did not obey all Church teachings, in particular sexual ethics, including even the hinting that some teachings should be revisited for a rethinking either had their Catholic teaching license revoked, would never be considered as a candidate for a bishop's position, had their duties as bishop transferred to an auxiliary bishop, or was severely criticized and pressured to recant their statements and opinions.

Michael Barberi | 6/12/2013 - 4:41pm

I agree with Ann Chapman.

The corruption mentioned is likely not the fact that some Cardinals and Bishops (or priests) within the Roman Curia are homosexual, or that there is a gay lobby per se. A gay lobby is no different from any other lobby that want to legitimately move the conversation forward, either to continue the status quo, to open the debate toward a better understanding of the truth, or to argue for responsible reform. There is nothing wrong about lobbies, either heterosexual or homosexual, as long as there is nothing immoral going on. For that matter, the issue of same-sex orientation in theological circles has been undergoing a rethinking, challenging past theological, canonistic, anthropological or philosophical understandings.

If there is evidence that any group of individuals within the Curia have been using blackmail to silent certain voices or to ensure that the status quo is preserved, then this is indeed corruption.

KEN LOVASIK | 6/12/2013 - 12:34pm

Jesus also said, "Before you seek to remove the splinter from the eye of your brother, remove the plank from your own." My point was that in the context of everything that the new Pope has said publicly the issue of homosexual lifestyles has not been prominent. He is far more concerned about the plight of the poor, the helpless, the underprivileged, and victims of prejudice in the world ... calling on all of us to be responsive. Remember, too, that as Archbishop of Buenos Aires -- and President of the Bishops Conference -- he was not against civil recognition of gay unions. Believe it or not, I am well acquainted with the Gospels, and Jesus never mentions homosexuality ... not even once. He does, however, have strong words for those who judge others: "Do not judge, lest you yourself be judged." None of us, especially when we identify ourselves as Christians, can know what is in the deepest heart of another. Only God has the right to judge another's innermost heart and intentions.
No, I don't think that Pope Francis is soft on morality or that he is going to 'sanctify' the homosexual lifestyle ... but I believe that he is a man of deep compassion, not quick to judge the hearts of others.

Michael Rizzio | 6/12/2013 - 6:42pm

If the Russian government and Orthodox Church are taking steps to limit the exposure of this alternative lifestyle for the good of the nation, might we in U.S.A. take notice and start the discussion? It is true that the lobby is in existance both inside and outside the Chruch.

Pope Francis lived to see Buenos Aires sport the largest condom in existence at what might be the most brazen act of intellectual sexual assault of a nation by a small minority. (Google: pink condom buenos to see what I am talking about) I have a strong military suspician that Saul Alinskian tactics are behind this and I beleive we must do battle to stem the tide. But how? Well we must take the moral high ground. We must make a stand on the word COVENANT and the sign that God gave us, the Rainbow. There is a flag that supports this effort.

The following attachments/links should serve to explain what I've been
working on relative to the rainbow.

INRI Covenant Flag...

St. Mary's Church Window (Fredricksburg, TX)...

A music video featuring images of Jesus/Mary and the rainbow ...

The troubling interview that details the creation of the LGBT rainbow flag...

KEN LOVASIK | 6/12/2013 - 11:10am

Mr. Rizzio, while I certainly respect your right to express your opinion, I do not share your understanding of the words attributed to the Holy Father. And what is more disturbing, I detect an undercurrent of homophobia in your post, as well as in the links you provide. Within the larger context of the Holy Father's words -- everything he has said so far in these early days of his papal ministry -- I think you are bending his words, "gay lobby", to support your own homophobic agenda. The readers of America -- and those of us who participate in this blog -- are far more concerned about Jesus' teaching in the Gospels than on continuing the discrimination that divides the Church, the USA, and the world.

Michael Rizzio | 6/12/2013 - 6:43pm

Homophobia? Can you cite anything with specifics?

Caryn Hayes | 6/12/2013 - 12:01pm

Sadly I think you are in turn misinterpreting the pope's words. I visited the translation of the entire dialogue because I know from experience that news articles selectively publish details from these speeches and documents. The pope mentions the gay lobby in the same breath that he is discussing a "stream of corruption" in the Church. This to any thinking person should in no way imply that there is going to be a sudden acceptance of the homosexual lifestyle as your comments seem to imply. I would even go further to say that Jesus' teaching in the Gospels would also not advocate for an acceptance of the homosexual lifestyle. I and many others who practice the Christian faith are sick to death of the implication that a refusal to accept and even promote this behavior is tantamount to hatred. Jesus loved the sinners that he ate with and taught but he did not confirm them in their sin. You should pay attention to that part of the Gospel.

Anne Chapman | 6/12/2013 - 12:32pm

Perhaps your interpretation doesn't go far enough. Perhaps what the pope is referring to as part of the "stream of corruption" are the rumors of blackmail of homosexual members of the Curia that is leading them to push certain "agendas" or be "outed". The studies indicate that somewhere between 25-50% of all priests are homosexual (very hard to know for certain since this is not something the church wants to publicize, so data are from other studies and analysis of many studies can help form at least a bit of a picture). Certainly most homosexual priests keep their vows, as do most (but not all) heterosexual priests. It would be surprising indeed if there were no gays among the men in the Curia. However, those who are leading a double-life and are violating their vows while pushing anti-gay marriage operations all over the globe might be vulnerable to blackmail.

Bill Mazzella | 6/11/2013 - 6:58pm

Francis is getting at the heart of things. He knows our anointing is to free the captives, let the blind see and preach the good news. He will leave the Church of Dogma for those who just love the inquisition and do nothing else. If we follow the essential message of Jesus, with Francis' help there will be continual rejoicing in the church.