After an Italian media report exposed sexual activity by gay priests in Rome, the Vicariate of Rome responded quickly by calling on all priests who are leading such "double lives" to come out and leave the priesthood for the good of the Church community.
The Italian weekly magazine Panorama ran a feature story on Friday morning titled, "The wild nights of gay priests." The article tracks three supposed priests, monitoring their behavior in gay nightclubs and soliciting them for sexual encounters by way of male prostitutes hired by the magazine.
The author, Carmelo Abbate, claims to have everything on tape, including the sexual acts and the same priests celebrating Mass. Panorama, considered a socialist magazine, has set up priests before using false requests for the Sacrament of Confession to "poll" what they teach on moral or political issues and then publish the results.
In response to Friday's story, the Vicariate of Rome, the office which assists the Pope in running the Diocese of Rome, released a message stating that "the purpose of the article is obvious: to create scandal, defame all priests ... discredit the church and - in another way - put pressure on that part of the Church defined by them as 'intransigent, that strives not to face the reality' of homosexual priests."
Not denying the information in the article, the vicariate said that the Church community cannot help but feel "sorrow and dismay" at seeing the report, knowing its priests intimately "not by their 'double lives,' but with a 'single life,' happy and joyful, consistent with their vocation, given to God and the service of the people, committed to living and witnessing to the Gospel and model of morality for all."
Because the Panorama article painted the 1,300 priests of the Diocese of Rome using gross generalizations, the vicariate replied that the essence of the Church of Rome is not found in those with "'double lives,' who haven't understood what 'Catholic priesthood' (is) and should not have become priests."
"Know," the statement continued, "that no one forces them to remain priests, exploiting only the benefits."
"Coherence would require them to come into the open. We don't wish to hurt them, but we cannot accept that due to their behavior the integrity of the all the rest might be tarnished."
"Before such facts," the vicariate asserted, "we firmly adhere to what the Holy Father Benedict XVI has repeated several times in recent months: 'the sins of priests' call us all back to conversion of heart and life and to be vigilant so as not to 'pollute the faith and Christian life, damaging the integrity of the Church, weakening her capacity of prophecy and testimony, tarnishing the beauty of her face'."