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Senior Vatican Bishop suspended after gay interview

The Vatican has suspended a senior priest in the Holy See who acknowledged homosexual relations in a supposedly anonymous television interview, but he now insists he is not gay.

Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said Monsignor Tommaso Stenico, was suspended from duty pending an internal investigation, as reported by Reuters.

However, Msgn Stenico says he is not gay and was only pretending to be gay as part of his work, Associated Press reported.

He said he frequented online gay chat rooms and met with gay men as part of his work as a psychoanalyst. He said that he pretended to be gay in order to gather information about ``those who damage the image of the Church with homosexual activity.''

The priest appeared on a TV documentary with three other clerics, all with their faces and voices distorted to protect their identities, to talk about their homosexuality. He was identified by superiors from background shots of his office.

He told La 7 TV he "did not feel in sin" for being gay but preferred anonymity "to avoid being reprimanded by my superiors, given the current firm position of Catholic doctrine regarding priestly celibacy and homosexuality".

Father Lombardi said the Vatican "had to intervene decisively and severely in a case of behaviour incompatible with priestly duty and the mission of the Holy See".

Vatican teaching holds that gays and lesbians should be treated with compassion and dignity but that homosexual acts are ``intrinsically disordered.''

Stenico said he had never been gay and was heterosexual, but remained faithful to his vow of celibacy. He said he expected to be fully exonerated after a review.

``It's all false; it was a trap. I was a victim of my own attempts to contribute to cleaning up the church with my psychoanalyst work,'' he said.

Vatican bars 'anonymous' gay priest (News.Com, 13/10/07)
Vatican Official Insists He's Not Gay (Associated Press, 14/10/07)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
The Vatican

Italian paper reveals details of gays in priesthood document (CathNews, 14/011/05)
Ratzinger Document to prescribe caution, not ban, on gay seminarians (CathNews, 5/10/05)
Gay seminarian ban imminent (CathNews, 02/09/05)


15 Oct 2007