Catholic officials seated at gathering
The book has received backlash from the gay community amid concerns that it reinforces a connection between homosexuality and pedophilia.

According to French journalist and author Frédéric Martel, the Vatican is a veritable mecca of closeted gay men. "Even in San Francisco's Castro" he writes, there aren't "quite as many gays." Martel's new book, titled In the Closet of the Vatican, hits store shelves today. The bombshell story has already been translated into eight different languages and will be available in 20 countries.

Among the book's most eye-raising claims: at least 80 percent of the Vatican's male clergy members are gay. According to Martel and his sources (which remain anonymous), the more vocally homophobic a Vatican official is, the more likely he is to be hiding a secret identity. The book also asserts that while the rates of homosexuality in the Vatican are substantial across the board, the higher up you go, the higher the probability is of finding gay officials. 

In the Closet of the Vatican cover

Extensively Researched, but Is It Accurate?

In the Closet of the Vatican is based on over four years of research by Martel, during which time he conducted 1,500 interviews with 41 cardinals, 50 bishops, 45 Vatican ambassadors, and 11 members of the Pope's personal guard. Based on these conversations, Martel concludes that "gay men are the "the great silent majority" in the Catholic Church. "It's what I define as fifty shades of gay," he says.

However, critics assert that Martel's work often strays into hyperbole and sensationalism. At one point, he challenges the notion that Pope Francis is "among the wolves," instead noting, "It's not quite true: he's among the queens."

Potential Damage to Gay Community

To the surprise of no one, the book has received a substantial amount of backlash from Catholic circles. But a less-predictable source of ire is the gay community itself, where some are concerned that Martel's work may serve to reinforce a connection between homosexuality and child sex abuse.

And perhaps this is a legitimate concern; one of the main theories outlined in the book is that the Church's tendency to cover up clergy abuse is the result of fearful church officials who are afraid to speak up against fellow clergy members because they might be outed as gay in retaliation.

Martel, who himself is gay, claims his goal was simply to tell a story. Exposing the Vatican's rampant hypocrisy was simply a byproduct of that story, he says. Nonetheless, the narrative has generated significant buzz and media attention. Readers will no doubt relish the deep irony of Catholic officials preaching publicly about homosexuality being unnatural and sinful, while behind closed doors pursuing carnal urges just like the rest of us.

Timing is Everything

Then there is the question of the release date. Pope Francis is busy this week preparing for a high-profile meeting of Catholic bishops which will seek to promote transparency, address past clergy abuse, and recommend policies for how to end it.   

If Martel indeed sought to connect clergy sex abuse with a Vatican full of closeted gay men, he couldn't have chosen a better time to release it. But some argue this is counterproductive, and even damaging:

Radical Change Needed

However, others think the timing could actually prove beneficial. Up until now, the Catholic Church's response to the clergy abuse crisis has been tepid at best, and many remain skeptical that the upcoming summit will result in any substantial changes. All talk, no action.

A bombshell book about rampant homosexuality in the Vatican, though? That might just be enough to move the needle and convince Catholic officials to finally take concrete steps to weed out predatory priests if for no other reason than to protect the Church's reputation. Peter Isely, an abuse survivor who works with the group Ending Clergy Abuse, believes now is the time for action:

"We've heard a lot of words from Pope Francis since he was elected but now is the time to do the right thing," Isely says. "We want zero tolerance. Any priest who has sexually assaulted a child should be removed from the priesthood and the same goes for bishops or cardinals who cover up for them. That needs to be written into the universal law of the Church. It needs to be an infallible doctrine and Pope Francis can order it with the stroke of a pen. What's the hold-up? Why doesn't he do this?"

To that, we say: Amen.


  1. Gary Hynous's Avatar Gary Hynous

    Maybe they can "boink"each other and leave the altar boys alone. Later they can meet in the confessional and forgive each other. I guess what someone does behind closed doors is their business whether or not they are priests or gay. They'ed fit in well in the Castro.

  1. Lionheart's Avatar Lionheart

    Are we expected to be surprised?

  1. Tom's Avatar Tom

    That's why they need women in the Vatican.

    1. Tom's Avatar Tom

      Actually, bad idea, they would get #Me Too'd.

      1. John Owens's Avatar John Owens


    2. Wesley Worden's Avatar Wesley Worden

      They enter gay, woman are not wanted.

  1. Kitty's Avatar Kitty

    I do not see the Catholic Church ever officially writing into their law protections against sexual abuse for children. Ritual, magic, fear, and occult are the absolute heart and soul of the Vatican and any serious members - always has been always will be. It is not up to the church, it is up to the people of the church to decide what will and will not be tolerated by them.

  1. Secretary3rd's Avatar Secretary3rd

    There is a place in Northern Illinois that is a Catholic retreat. It has a small lake and on warm muggy nights swimming is an excise that is enjoyed by both sexes. Beer and condoms are common as the dumpsters on Sunday morning shows. That change in 1979 with the AIDS virus. These days the walls have razor wire on them, video cameras on the grounds and a security detail of big husky men who do not like strangers. Swimming is still a sport practice by all residents, put. Have found that they are very good at shooting down drones.

  1. John Owens's Avatar John Owens

    Surprised the percentage is so low. I figured it would be like 98% or 99%. Same goes for monks, too. It always mystified me that anyone would choose that life.

  1. Carl Elfstrom's Avatar Carl Elfstrom

    It all dates back to Jesus, and his twelve merry men who left their wives to be with him. Face it, even the Christian deity is a little gay, and probably likes it both ways. It's like yin yang. It's best to be balanced in all ways. And who do you think created the natural laws?

    1. Lionheart's Avatar Lionheart

      Yes, I’ve often wondered about his very loving fraternity of “merry men” that followed him wearing dresses, not to mention his “suffer little children to come unto me” statement. I doubt he’d get away with that nowadays, unless, of course, he lived in California.


      1. William G.Unger's Avatar William G.Unger

        the age of consent in the Vatican grounds in 12. Mary was 15 when she bore Jesus. In the USA and in the UK Joseph would be banged up for child abuse or God if you believe the mythology. Bill Unger

  1. Hank Stanco's Avatar Hank Stanco

    The church is fast becoming gay-friendly. There will never be a satisfactory resolution to the gay crisis other than ‘thoughts and prayers’.

  1. Y P's Avatar Y P

    More like 90%

  1. George Egan's Avatar George Egan

    Jesus accepted gays, as a good Christian does. But let's take the idols and God nonsense out of Catholicism and keep the splendid philosophy and good works. Existential Catholicism for all.

    1. Lionheart's Avatar Lionheart

      Actually, not only do we not know Jesus accepted homosexuals, but we don’t know for sure that he ever existed.....but he could have done.


    2. John Owens's Avatar John Owens

      Can you quote the chapter and verse on that?

  1. George Egan's Avatar George Egan

    OK, A (or my) mythical Jesus would have accepted homosexuals.

  1. William G.Unger's Avatar William G.Unger

    The age of consent in the Vatican is 12 Mary was 15 when she bore Jesus. Joseph in the USA and the UK would be banged up for child abuse (age of consent 16) or God is a paedophile if you believe the mythology cobbled together at th Council of Nicaea in 325 AD Dr. Bill Unger

  1. Wanda Williams's Avatar Wanda Williams

    Humm, so the Micheal Jackson sensation is a milestone compared to this major cover up!

  1. Bill Fox's Avatar Bill Fox

    To believe the article, one would have to believe that homosexuality is a contagious spiritual disease and not something that one is born with. The article further indicates homosexuals are drawn to the Catholic Church. If that is the case, why? Is the average homosexual interested in becoming a celibate, religious person?

  1. George Egan's Avatar George Egan

    To believe the article, you need only accept that some men are homosexuals. The Church was an obvious place to hide that, and live a respectable life. The key insight is that keeping the gay secret created a culture of secrecy and forced the Church to keep the pedophile secret as well. Gay priests are fine with me. Pedophiles have victims.

    "one of the main theories outlined in the book is that the Church’s tendency to cover up clergy abuse is the result of fearful church officials who are afraid to speak up against fellow clergy members because they might be outed as gay in retaliation."

  1. John Sergeant's Avatar John Sergeant

    I don't like the idea of linking gay priests to child abuse. Most gay men don't molest children. The way for Pope to end child abuse is to urge victims to report abuse to the police. He would never do it and that is one of the many things wrong with the Catholic church. Why any thinking person would be part of that religion blows my mind.

  1. Vincent's Avatar Vincent

    The archdiocese is the biggest cover up, and pays there Laywers to protect them and the richest people, hearing young heats and, people need to be warned, it not the works we do, it's what Jesus did at the cross for all us, he paid the price

  1. Daniel's Avatar Daniel

    Not surprised so many catholic priests are “gay”. It’s very likely that, in the same way they built so many churches over older “pagan” power junctions, they also stole some of the pagan pre-ritual practices of having gay orgies to raise the energies needed for the ritual. Tragically though they seem to have mixed this with the old Roman traditions of continuing to have sex with little boys while ignoring the abusive and harmful effects. Maybe they should just out right abandon their dysfunctional roman origins and go fully with the pagan orgy model. At least there’d be less harm done AND they might generate enough cleaner energy to get more good things done with their rituals. Just imagine how it would be if instead of yearning for an audience with the pope they were all just hoping to get a ticke to the semi-anal- I mean semi-annual- orgy at the vatican. Of course the Vatican would ALSO have to raise its age of consent from 12 to at least a more respectable age of 18 or 21.

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