A commentary on Frederic Martel's “In the Closet of the Vatican”.
Nicolas J Bellord
This book was supposed to be a 'bombshell' but in reality it will have no more effect than a damp squib. Everyone knows there are homosexuals and homosexual networks or lobbies in the Vatican; all that this book does is to give an exaggerated view of the problem dictated by an LGBT agenda. That agenda is that the Vatican is 80% homosexual and that therefore the Catholic Church should drop its supposed hypocritical stance on the evil of sodomy and say there is nothing wrong with it.
Martel tells us that he does not like the use of the titles that are common in the Vatican e.g. Your Eminence etc. Further he does not like the use of capital letters so 'Holy See' becomes 'holy see', Pope becomes 'pope' etc. He is not consistent in this as 'France' still gets a capital letter. So to concur with his hatred of formality and respect lets refer to him as Fred but keep the capital letter.
Probably the most important areas in the book are the interviews with named Cardinals as opposed to many more interviews with unnamed Cardinal of doubtful credibility.
His first victim is Cardinal Burke (chapter 2) who fortunately escapes being interviewed as he never turns up being detained by Pope Francis for longer than expected. However Fred does go to the abortive meeting and tells us why the Cardinal must be a homosexual by observing what he sees in the Cardinal's apartment. He asks the Cardinal's assistant whether he can use the bathroom so that he can inspect that. He then enumerates various pointers which are supposed to indicate the Cardinal's hidden sexuality:
- His apartment is luxurious and spartan.
- His dining table is not a genuine antique but repro.
- On a chest of drawers is a Bible open on a lectern. This surely indicates a rigid Promethean Neo-Pelagianism in Fred's eyes.
- On the table, an arrangement of dried pine cones, braided and glued together – the ornamental art of elderly dandies. Dandy must be a code word for queer.
- In the bathroom: luxury soaps, with their subtle perfumes, are arranged in the Japanese style
- the little towels folded on medium-sized ones, which are in turn arranged on large ones, and the large ones on very large.
- The toilet paper is new, and set in a protective cover that guarantees its immaculate purity.
For Fred all these items point to homosexuality. But Fred really goes to town on the Cardinal's wardrobe which contains a red hat amongst other regalia. That is the sum total of the case against Cardinal Burke.
Fred did manage to get interviews with two other Cardinals – Mueller and Kasper – amongst other Cardinals but these two are of supreme importance. Since publication both Mueller and Kasper have said that the interviews were obtained on false pretences.
But before we get to those interviews Fred brings up the allegations made by Archbishop Vigano. In particular it has been said that Fred confirms that the Archbishop told Pope Francis about McCarrick's sleeping with seminarians under his tutelage. In fact he only implies this when he writes “When the pope dismissed the allegations, his entourage indicated to me that Francis ‘was initially informed by Viganò that Cardinal McCarrick had had homosexual relations with over-age seminarians, which was not enough in his eyes to condemn him’.” Throughout this book this kind of assertion is made on no quoted evidence – no name is given, no source is cited etc. However what he is doing is to accuse Pope Francis of saying that an Archbishop inviting over-age seminarians under his tutelage to sleep with him is not something he would condemn. Of course this reflects the LGBT agenda i.e. sodomy between consenting adults is acceptable; although of course to what extent the seminarians were giving proper consent is questionable. Fred only condemns the abuse of minors. The view of Pope Francis is not the same; unfortunately he has said that sins below the belt are of no great consequence so he may well believe that McCarrick was not to be condemned when minors were not involved.
Of course Fred makes much of the “Who am I judge” remark by Pope Francis and by ignoring the context of that remark reinforces his view that the Pope views sodomy very lightly.
Pope Francis in Buenos Aires
Fred moves on to Pope Francis in chapter 4 and his time in Buenos Aires. He talks about Liberation Theology but not with any insight. He is more interested in accusing clerics of closet homosexual activity and Bergoglio's attitude to this. He says Bergoglio was soft on civil unions but very much against same-sex marriage but only as a result of pressure from Rome.
The Synod on the Family
Cardinal Baldisseri is the hero and the claim is made that he was promoting an attack on the Church's doctrine on sexuality at the behest of the Pope, first through allowing communion for the divorced and remarried but eventually in the hope of permitting sodomy, all inspired by the theology of Cardinal Walter Kasper. We are told that 80% of the clergy in the Vatican are homosexuals. Fred also admits that over 80% of the abuse cases involving young people are homosexual in nature. He seems to miss the irony of referring to 80% in each case.
Fred claims that the Pope's programme is:
“ The Church needed to distinguish, in a new and fundamental way, between the crimes of paedophilia – abuse and aggression directed at minors under the age of 15; acts without consent or within the context of a situation of authority (catechism, confession, seminaries etc.) – and legal homosexual practices between consenting adults.”
I wonder what he thinks of the Pope's proposal to raise the age of consent from 15 to 16 whilst many in the LGBT movement would like to see it reduced.
Fred thinks that the Pope's programme was defeated at the first session of the Synod but the 'Sly and cunning' Pope fights back. Fast forward to the dubia and the four Cardinals – Burke, Caffara, Bradmuller and Meisner who must be homosexual because they are so opposed to sodomy. For Fred the dubia are not the questions raised by the four Cardinals but the Cardinals themselves and their entourage: “The ‘dubia’ have a style of their own: apparent humility and extravagant vanity; obsequious explosions of laughter from their handsome young companions and book burnings; sacristy hangers-on, liturgy queens, well-combed choirboys with their straight partings from the Jesuit schools and the Inquisition; a tortuous and, indeed, torturous language and medieval positions on sexual morality. And on top of that, what a lack of enthusiasm for the fair sex! Such misogyny! Such divine gaiety, such virile rigidity – or vice versa. ‘The Lady doth protest too much, methinks.’ Fully informed about the ‘homophilia’ of some of these ‘dubia’ and the paradoxes of his opponents’ lives – these paragons of moral intransigence and rigidity – the pope is deeply revolted by such a level of duplicity.”
Does Fred believe that such language will be taken seriously?
Cardinals Mueller and Kasper
Fred turns to Cardinal Mueller writing about the Cardinal's apartment: “The apartment is classical, and ugly in a rather un-Catholic way. That’s a trait shared by dozens of cardinals’ apartments I have visited: this demi-mondain semi-luxury, this mixture of genres that don’t match, the ersatz, and the superficial rather than depth. It is, in a word, what I will call ‘middlebrow’! That’s the term they use in the United States for things that are neither elitist nor working-class: it’s the culture of the middle, the culture of between-the-two; the culture that is bang in the centre. A large, opulent, fake art-deco clock that has stopped working; an over-styled baroque chest of drawers; a fireman table all mixed up together. It’s the culture of moleskin notebooks, spuriously modelled on those of Bruce Chatwin and Hemingway, apocryphal legends. That style without style, ‘bland’ and dull, is common to Müller, Burke, Stafford, Farina, Etchegaray, Herranz, Martino, Ruini, Dziwisz, Re, Sandoval and many cardinals in search of ‘self-aggrandizement’ that I have visited.”
One supposes that Fred's own apartment must be in such perfect good taste that it rivals that of Huysmans's des Esseintes or Proust's Baron de Charlus both partly modelled on the real apartment of Count Robert de Montesquiou as described by Mallarme.
Visiting Cardinal Mueller at 9a.m. he finds him in a tee-shirt, trousers and slippers although he calls them flip-flops further on. Without any justification he repeatedly claims that this is Mueller's nightwear or his underwear presumably with the aim of belittling the Cardinal. All he gets from Mueller is a statement of his loyalty to the Pope.
The Chapter concludes with an interview with Cardinal Kasper who of course is a hero for Fred so the tone is quite different. They spend their time going through the people in the Vatican to discuss whether they are homosexuals or not. Really? Word must have got about that Fred was somebody to be wary of. Cardinal Kasper has since commented that the interview was obtained by false pretences.
Pope Paul VI and The Maritain Code.
The next part of the book is about Pope Paul VI and we have a chapter entitled 'The Maritain Code' which has as much credibility as 'The Da Vinci Code'. The theory is that Jacques Maritain was against sodomy and tried to persuade Andre Gide not to indulge in it. He was therefore extremely homophobic and therefore a repressed homosexual or what Fred calls a homophile which for Fred is a homosexual who has not yet succumbed to sodomy. Anyone who either knew Maritain or read and admired what he wrote must be a homophile. As a very influential theologian Maritain was known to Pope Paul VI and many others and this is how we get to 80% of the clergy in the Vatican.
“In order to understand the very particular sociology of Catholicism, and particularly that of the Vatican on my subject, we must therefore rely on what I choose here to call the ‘Maritain code’. Sublimated, if not repressed, homosexuality is often translated into the choice of celibacy and chastity, and, even more often, into an internalized homophobia. And yet most popes, cardinals and bishops who are over the age of 60 today grew up in the atmosphere and the way of thinking of the ‘Maritain code’.”
Why stop at 80%? Why not 100%? The whole of the next chapter is designed to show that a chaste Loving Friendship is a phoney concept and is nothing but repressed homosexuality.
Fred mentions Jean Cocteau who came out as a homosexual and wrote a book called his White Book describing his homosexuality. Fred hands out copies of this book to many of the people he interviews.
Pope John Paul II and Marcial Maciel
Part III is about John Paul II. The friends and disciples of Jacques Maritain were homophiliac under Paul VI. They now become homosexual. The idea that John Paul II was homosexual is so ludicrous that Fred thinks that it is best to pretend that he was just surrounded by a ring of lust.
There is a diversion about Cardinal Sodano and particularly his activities in Chile. How reliable Fred's account is is questionable and really not much reliance can be put on it. Moving on to The Legion of Christ Fred describes Marcial Maciel as 'diabolical' – the majority of his behaviour was homosexual.
The language Fred uses about homosexuality is often curious mentioning for example 'moral abyss'. He deplores the homosexual abuse by Maciel. But then how does he see homosexuality? Is sodomy only wrong when there is also hypocrisy i.e. not coming out and covering it up? If the Church were to stop condemning sodomy would all practising homosexuals in the Church come out and lead happy fulfilled lives in faithful same-sex unions blessed by the Church? Does he believe that all sexual abuse is really about power; power or in the case of the clergy 'clericalism' is what is wrong not sodomy itself? He attributes a quote to Oscar Wilde on this which most commentators say Wilde never uttered: “Everything in human life is really about sex, except sex. Sex is about power.” Unfortunately this seems to be a view shared by Pope Francis.
Fred sees certain behaviour as truly evil; discussing Maciel he writes “the predator's wicked actions”. But he wants the ban on sodomy to be lifted; what limits would he impose on their behaviour? What would he still see as 'wicked'? In chapter 11 he approves of prostitution as it is legal.
Fred concludes this chapter on Maciel and the Legion of Christ with a passage that has some element of truth although the answers to his questions are fairly obvious.
“Once one starts equating paedophilia with homosexuality – as many cardinals have given the impression of doing, the differences blur. If everything is mixed up together, sexual abuse and sin, paedophilia, homosexuality, prostitution, and the crime differs only in its extent, not in its nature, who is to be punished? Here is where the priests get lost: What is up, what is down? Where are Good, Evil, Nature and Culture? What rules apply to me, and which to others? Can Marcial Maciel be excommunicated for his sexual crimes if, a bit like him, one is also stuck in a sexual lie, and oneself ‘intrinsically disordered’? To denounce abuse is to expose oneself to no good end and, who knows, perhaps run the risk of being denounced likewise. Here we are at the heart of the secret of the Maciel case and all the paedophile crimes that have been uncovered, and that continue to be exposed, in the Vatican and among the Catholic clergy: an army of supporters, countless excuses and endless silences.”
There follow chapters on “The Swiss Guard” and “The Crusade against Gays” all entirely predictable. However in Chapter 14 - “The Pope's Diplomacy”. Fred meets a wary Monsignor Ricca of “Who am I to judge” fame who arranges for him to stay at the hotel for Vatican diplomats: Domus Internationalis Paulus VI. There follows a long complaint about how spartan it is! He gives Ricca a copy of Cocteau's White Book and we discover that there are parts of the Domus which are less spartan! From here on Fred descends into schoolboy silliness with all sorts of innuendos as he fantasizes about more homosexual scandal. Naturally Vatican diplomats are just sex tourists. The Pantheon is an example of Italian Catholic 'cultural appropriation'!
Some have suggested that Fred was encouraged to write this book by close members of Pope Francis's entourage and the involvement of Mgr Ricca suggests there may be something in that idea although if it is true then it is difficult to see what they expected to achieve.
There is a long attack on Cardinal Robert Sarah accusing him of exaggerating the sales of his books. He is of course surrounded by homosexuals even if he is unaware of them. Such is the innuendo. The attack is really nasty – how Fred really hates the Church and any orthodox member thereof is amazing. In respect of Cardinal Sarah, one of whose characteristics is to say very little, the venom shown by Fred is diabolic.
Several chapters follow ending up with the Italian Bishops' Conference (CEI). The reputations of several Cardinals are attacked. Finally Pope Francis gets praise for clearing many out of the CEI and restraining its anti-gay programme but: “For want of heterosexual candidates, he has been forced to surround himself with cardinals that he knows to be gay. He no longer has the illusion that he can change the existing state of affairs.”
A predictable chapter on Seminarians has no mention of McCarrick!
All of that part III of the book consisting of ten chapters is supposed to have been about Pope John Paul II. In the event there is very little about him other than he followed an orthodox line. His only defect according to Fred was being surrounded by homosexuals – the Ring of Lust.
Pope Benedict XVI
Pope Benedict XVI is described as naïve and fragile because he is a fan of Saint-Exupery's “The Little Prince”. Further “Benedict XVI often lies” - not a shred of evidence or a single example is given for that extraordinary statement. Later Fred refers to him as 'our Queenie'. Need one say more about the nastiness of this book?
When attacking Cardinal Bertone, who has read Maritain, Fred writes: “This kind of gossip was typical of homosexual life before ‘gay liberation’.” So in Fred's brave new world there will be no gossip! What irony!
Under another chapter heading “The Dissidents”, we meet Timothy Radcliffe O.P: ‘It doesn’t matter if you’re gay or heterosexual: the essential thing is to love,’ Strangely Fred does not mention Radcliffe's question “We must ask what it [sodomy] means, and how far it is Eucharistic”. There follows a passage on James Allison and how liberation theology morphed into 'gay theology' and eventually became 'queer theology'.
After “Vatileaks” (a conspiracy by homosexuals!) we come to “The Abdication”. Cuba comes under the spotlight: “Roberto Veiga warns me. ‘Black masses on Sundays, orgies, cases of paedophilia and prostitution: the Cuban Church is very compromised.’” What I find curious is that Fred puts all this down to the presence of homosexuals. He then claims that it was the sight of all this corruption when Benedict XVI visited Cuba that led to his abdication.
Lastly we have the “Epilogue” in which Fred says he is going to redefine love. A good deal of drivel follows and we are none the wiser. At the end Fred writes:
“Finally, this book relies on a very large number of written sources, footnotes and a wide-ranging bibliography containing over a thousand references references to books and articles. Since the format of this book does not allow us to cite them here, interested researchers and readers will find, free online, in a document of 300 pages, all of these sources as well as three unpublished chapters (my journey to the real Sodom in Israel-Palestine-Jordan; a part about Brazil; and a text on the art and culture of the Vatican). All quotations are also given here with their references as well as 23 fragments from Rimbaud, ‘the Poet’ in this book. To go further: see the site www.sodoma.fr ;”
I have visited that site but could find none of this.
The problem with this tedious and silly book is that it is over 500 pages. Few will read it. The world at large will not read but accept the notion that there are many homosexuals in the Vatican. But we knew that already that so my view is that the book will have little effect except for convincing those who hate the Church that it is utterly corrupt.