Homosexuality and the Clergy
Paul VI's Homosexuality: Rumor or Reality?
Marian T. Horvat, Ph.D.
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The Italian periodical L’Espresso recently published a scoop reporting that Paul VI had been blackmailed about a certain secret. The “hush-hush” information was his supposed “waywardness” involving homosexual acts.
The gist of the article was reported by the newspaper Il Giornale online, January 27, 2006. Rather than deny the accusations, Paul VI had sought the help of his friend Aldo Moro, the president of the Governmental Council, to stop the rumor. This was reported by General Giorgio Manes, who released his confidential notes to l’Espresso as an exclusive.
Is there anything sound upon which to base this very serious accusation, or is it just a tabloid splash? The report brings to the surface an unremitting accusation that Paul VI really was a homosexual. It has often been said that the principal thing that could stop the process of his canonization would be that his vice was, and still is, broadly known in countless Italian milieus.
In his book, Vatican II, Homosexuality and Pedophilia, Atila S. Guimarães examined those accusations and, based on credible sources, made the following report. With his permission, I transcribe an excerpt from his work (pages 157 to 162, with the footnotes). He wrote:
Accusations against Paul VI
It is especially painful to report that the moral integrity of one of the Sovereign Pontiffs was marred by serious reports of homosexuality. For Catholics who love and defend the Papacy, the revelation that homosexuality could have penetrated the highest cupola of the Church is particularly sorrowful. Nonetheless, given the credibility of the source and the importance of facing the truth in this grave matter, it seemed a requisite of honesty to offer the following data to the reader to allow him to form his own judgment.
In April 1976, an important statement regarding Paul VI was made. In an interview with the Italian magazine Tempo, French author Roger Peyrefitte, a professed homosexual, commented on a homily (January 1976) in which Paul VI had spoken against homosexuality. The French writer alleged that the Pontiff’s words were hypocritical and made this revelation:
“The second sin from which I feel I have been freed, after this grotesque papal speech is my homosexuality …. In my last book, Hunting Scenes, and in another, About the French People, I stated with all the respect due a Pope (especially when he is still alive) that he is homosexual. It is amazing that the papal speech [against homosexuality] was published at the same time as my book. Was Paul VI moved by a guilt complex? But why should he feel guilty? It is known that a boyfriend of Paul VI was a certain movie star, whose name I will not give, although I remember him very well. He was an unknown actor when our friend Paul was Cardinal Montini, Archbishop of Milan." (1)
These grave accusations (which some might consider open to discussion, given the scandalous character of Peyrefitte) were confirmed by another author, a serious professor and journalist who had worked at the Vatican in the papal quarters.
The details he reported corroborate Peyrefitte’s affirmations and seem quite worthy of credit. His name is Franco Bellegrandi, camariero di spada e cappa (honor chamberlain) of His Holiness from the end of Pius XII’s pontificate into Paul VI’s reign. He was a member of the Vatican Noble Guard, the most distinguished corps of the papal military service. The Noble Guard – done away with by Paul VI – was an elite military honor corps made up of members of the Roman nobility that would assist the Pontiff at ceremonies and solemn acts, as well as at day-to-day diplomatic functions with Heads of States or important foreign representatives.
Serious accusations against Paul VI - 30 Giorni, July/August 2001
With reliable credentials – professor of Modern History at Innsbruck University (Austria), a correspondent for L’Osservatore Romano, author of two other books on the Vatican, and decorated with the Golden Cross of Merit of the Austrian Republic – he utilized sources and was sure of his facts. In 1994, when his book Nichitaroncalli – Controvita di un Papa (Nikita Krushev and Roncalli – Unknown Aspects of a Pope) was launched in Rome, among those present was Cardinal Silvio Oddi, who came to lend his prestige to the work and to indirectly endorse its contents.
In this book Bellegrandi described the situation in the papal quarters:
“In Rome and throughout Italy the rumor is out that Paul VI is a homosexual …. When he was Archbishop of Milan, he was caught by the police one night wearing civilian clothes and in not so laudable company. Actually, for many years he has been said to have a special friendship with a red-haired actor. This man did not make any secret of his relationship with the future Pope. The relationship continued and became closer in the years ahead. [After Montini was elected Pope] an official of the Vatican security forces told me that this favorite of Montini was allowed to come and go freely in the pontifical apartments, and that he had often been seen taking the papal elevator at night.
Some pages later, Bellegrandi described what he had personally witnessed:
“The ‘banana peel’ that Paul VI stepped on and that put an end to the confident nature of his weakness was the homily on sexual ethics he delivered in January 1976, dealing with some points on homosexuality. This homily provoked a reaction from the writer Roger Peyrefitte. On April 13, 1976, the weekly Tempo published an interview with this author (with a reputation for very good documentation), ... who accused the Pope of being a homosexual and denied his right to be a censor on the topic. Paul VI officially acknowledged the blow.
“A ‘day of reparation for the offense received by the Pope’ was called for. All of Italy, however, was laughing about the incident. British TV broadcast made an interview with Peyrefitte, who confirmed his accusations and expressed surprise over the publicity he was receiving.
“The first blackmail against Montini was made as soon as he mounted the steps of the throne of Peter by Freemasonry, which pressured him to do away with the Church’s condemnation of those who ask to be cremated after death (which he did). What it threatened was to reveal the secret meetings between the Archbishop of Milan and ‘his’ actor in a hotel in Sion, in the Valais Canton in Switzerland. In Paris, sometime later, the story behind this change made by Paul VI surfaced, with the indisputable evidence patiently amassed by a gendarme (policeman).” (2)
“Another change observed by those in that narrow circle who, because of their position in the Hierarchy or their posts, used to pass a large amount of time inside the Apostolic Palace, was the sudden appointment of homosexuals to positions of prestige and responsibility close to the Papacy. This plague infested, transformed, and devastated the Vatican during the time of Paul VI. It had already begun then [in the pontificate of John XXIII], well hidden in the baroque curtain folds of the Pontifical Court, but, unfortunately, alive and real. But it was the distant hand of the Archbishop of Milan, himself a victim of such weaknesses, that discretely placed one after another on the State chessboard …. the pieces of his game dear to his heart.
Guimarães ends his chapter by presenting the testimony of Spanish author Pepe Rodrigues, who openly states what would seem to be common knowledge in the inner circles of the European Hierarchy and elites, that there were not only many homosexual Bishops but also a “great homosexual Pope.” (4).
“Those highly situated new personages, who were contaminated by the same ‘sickness,’ naturally brought with them other less highly placed people of the same ilk. Therefore, slowly but continuously, rumors and indiscretions began to flow in the Vatican, and grave facts began to occur as a matter-of-course.
“Because of their functions, these people were often seen by us [the Noble Guard]. … They also had their favorites, who were the effeminate young men wearing elegant uniforms and make-up on their faces to dissimulate their beards. We (the camarieri di spada e cappa and noble guards) carefully kept our distance from their smiles and courtesies. We limited ourselves to greeting them at distance with the military salute of the heels.
“‘Favorites’ of the Archbishop of Milan also began to appear at the level of functionary, and both small and large scandals at times would erupt. The Gendarmeria Pontificia [the Vatican police] had to steer carefully .… along those floating mines and keep one eye closed – and sometimes both eyes – to keep reports from leaking and to discourage some sharp journalists …. Honorable old employees who relied on the Governatorato [the administration of the Vatican State] were suddenly fired or removed to other posts, and these newcomers were installed in their empty chairs, all them carrying in their pockets letters of recommendation from Cardinal Montini.” (3
The former claim, at least, can be affirmed without hesitation in face of the continuing crisis of homosexuality the Church is experiencing because of the involvement or complicity of her Prelates with these crimes. The second claim, if true, would explain in part the immense complacency from the highest cupola regarding homosexuality among ecclesiastics.
1. Roger Peyrefitte, “Mea culpa? Ma fatemi il santo piacere,” Tempo, April 4, 1976.
2. Franco Bellegrandi, Nichitaroncalli – Controvita di un Papa (Rome: Ed. Internazionale di Letteratura e Scienze, 1994), pp. 85-86.
3. Ibid., pp. 91-2.
4. Pepe Rodrigues, "Espana no es diferente," El Mundo, March 19, 1995, p. 3.
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