This is an edited extract from In the Closet of the Vatican: Power, Homosexuality and Hypocrisy, by Frédéric Martel, published by Bloomsbury

Like a number of seminarians I have interviewed, Lafcadio describes to me another phenomenon that is particularly widespread in the church, so much so that it has a name: crimen sollicitationis (solicitation in confession). In confessing their homosexuality to their priest or spiritual director, the seminarians leave themselves exposed.

“A number of priests to whom I have confessed my doubts or attractions have made advances to me,” he tells me.

Often these solicitations are fruitless: at other times they receive consent and lead to a relationship; sometimes couples form. At yet other times these confessions – even though this is a sacrament – lead to touching, harassment, blackmail or sexual aggression.

The church puts up with the denunciation of homosexuals, but it forbids priests who are made aware of sexual abuse in confession to betray that secret

When a seminarian confesses that he has attractions or tendencies, he takes risks. In some cases the young man is denounced by his superior, as the former priest Francesco Lepore experienced at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross.

“In the course of a confession I mentioned my internal conflicts to one of the chaplains of Opus Dei. I was open and a bit naive. What I didn’t know was that he would betray me and tell everyone around him.”

Other seminarians have been trapped into having their confessions used against them to exclude them from the seminary; something that is strictly illegal under canon law because the secrets of the confessional are absolute, and betraying them should mean excommunication.

“Here again the church demonstrates double standards. It puts up with the denunciation of homosexuals, whose admissions have been elicited in confession, but it forbids priests who are made aware of sexual abuse in confession to betray that secret,” one seminarian laments.

According to several witnesses, cruising in confession occurs particularly frequently during the first few months of a seminarian’s training, during the year of “discernment” or “propaedeutic”, more rarely at the level of the diaconate.

Among the regular clergy, Dominicans, Franciscans and Benedictines have confirmed to me that they underwent this “rite of passage” as novices. Advances made, whether consented to or not, are justified by a kind of biblical excuse: in the Book of Job the guilty party is the one who yields to temptation, not the tempter themselves; in a seminary then the guilty party is ultimately always the seminarian and not the predatory superior – and here we encounter the whole inversion of the values of good and evil that the church constantly maintains.

Most of the seminarians I interviewed helped me to understand something that I hadn’t grasped, and that is very nicely summed up by a young German I met by chance in the streets of Rome.

“I don’t see that as a double life. A double life would be something secret and hidden. But my homosexuality is well known within the seminary. It isn’t noisy, it isn’t militant, but it is known. What is truly forbidden, however, is to be militantly in favour, to assert oneself. But as long as one remains discreet, everything is fine.’

The “don’t ask, don’t tell” rule does outstanding work, as it does elsewhere in the church. Homosexual practice is better tolerated in the seminaries when it is not displayed. But woe to him who causes a scandal!

“The only thing that is really banned is to be heterosexual. Having a girl, bringing a girl back, would mean immediate exclusion. Chastity and celibacy apply mostly to women,” the German seminarian adds with a broad smile.

While the celibacy of priests remains in place, a gay priest will always receive a better welcome in the church than a straight priest. That’s a reality

A former seminarian who lives in Zurich explains his point of view.

“Essentially the church has always preferred gay priests to heterosexual priests. With its anti-gay circulars, it claims to be changing things a little, but you can’t change a reality with a circular!

“While the celibacy of priests remains in place, a gay priest will always receive a better welcome in the church than a straight priest. That’s a reality, and there’s nothing the church can do about it.”

The seminarians I have interviewed agree on another point: a heterosexual cannot feel completely at ease in a Catholic seminary, because – and I’m quoting the expressions they used – of “the looks”, the “special friendships”, the “bromances” the “boy-chasing”, and the “sensitivity”, “fluidity”, “tenderness” and “generalised homoerotic atmosphere” that emanates from it. Anyone who wasn’t a confirmed bachelor would be flummoxed.

And another seminarian adds, repeating a mantra that I have heard several times: “Jesus never once mentions homosexuality. If it’s such a terrible thing, why does Jesus not talk about it?”

After a pause, he observes: “Being in a seminary is a bit like being in Blade Runner: no one knows who is a human and who is a replicant. It’s an ambiguity that straights usually take a dim view of.”

According to lots of statements I have collected in the Roman pontifical universities, the double life of seminarians has evolved considerably over the last few years because of the internet and smart phones. A large proportion of those who went out at the dead of night looking for chance encounters or, in Rome, in clubs like Diabolo 23, K-Men’s Gay, the Bunker or the Vicious Club can now cruise from the comfort of their own home.

Due to apps like Grindr, Tinder or Hornet, and hook-up sites like GayRomeo (now PlanetRomeo), Scruff (for more mature men and “bears”), Daddyhunt (for those who like “daddies”), or Recon (for fetishists and “extreme” sexualities), they no longer need to move or to take too many risks.

Along with my researchers in Rome, I also discover the homosexuality of several seminarians, priests or curia bishops thanks to the magic of the internet.

Often they gave us their email addresses or mobile numbers out of politeness or complicity when we met in the Vatican. After we went on to record the information, quite innocently, in our Gmail address books or on our smart phones, different accounts and names associated with them appeared automatically on WhatsApp, Google+, LinkedIn or Facebook. Often pseudonyms!

My team and I have managed to prove that Grindr does its job every evening inside the Vatican State

Starting with these borrowed names, the double life of these seminarians, priests or curia bishops – certainly very discreet, but not geeky enough – emerged from these networking sites as if through the intervention of the Holy Spirit! (Here I am thinking of a dozen precise cases, and especially several monsignori whom we have already encountered in the course of this book.)

Today lots of them spend their evenings on GayRomeo, Tinder, Scruff or Venerabilis – but mostly on Grindr.

Often priests spot each other without meaning to, having discovered that another gay cleric is a few metres away. And my team and I have also managed to prove that Grindr does its job every evening inside the Vatican State.

On Facebook, another site used a lot for cruising, because of the diversity of its members, it is easy to spot gay priests or seminarians. This is true, for example, of several prelates that we followed in Rome: most of them were unfamiliar with the confidentiality protocols of the social network, and left their list of friends visible.

You only had to look at the account of a Roman gay well connected in the homosexual community of the city to determine from “friends in common” whether a priest was gay or not. A timeline need not contain a single gay message: the way Facebook works almost always gives gays away.

To escape this you need to have compartmentalised your life – using separate networks and never having shared the slightest personal information – to such an extent that it is almost impossible.

Smart phones and the internet are changing the lives of seminarians and priests for better or for worse.


I think this piece from Martel calls for us to stop and reflect.

It shows the deep, deep problems with seminarians and priests.

It’s more worrying that it is at the heart of the Vatican.

The RCC is in mega difficulty.

Where would you start to reform it?



He wasn’t the worst. Look what followed I know you’ve an agenda. Look at the present. You totally miss the point.


When you say the ‘issues now’, do you mean the issuses close to home here?


The failed journalist Brendan Marshall will be back in Maynooth this September. No justice Hickey and McGonagle family 🙄.


10.14. Do you have permission of those two families to bring their names up on a public forum?
Stop! You are denying them justice and perpetrating injustice by doing what you do. Scurrilous!


“the looks”, the “special friendships”, the “bromances” the and the “sensitivity”, “fluidity”, “tenderness” and “generalised homoerotic atmosphere” that emanates.
Oooh, pack it in! I’m getting all excited lol 😂


The entire, evil panoply of Roman Catholic clerical cultism, because it is innately dishonest, inspires this dishonesty in others, particularly in seminarians.
How can such a seedy scenario lead to anything other than moral duplicity and deception?
And how can Jesus make any kind of appearance here, even in cameo form?

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Priests are after slagging me Pat as I don’t wear the blacks and the collar. I want nothing to do with clergy such as these. It’s only that I’m not after leaving the priesthood that I don’t expose them. But believe me… I know who they are. And they’re not the older priests Pat.


Your in the wrong job if your in Clerical state it should be Black unless you are one of the Religious Orders.

What in the earth are you doing online at 01.20 .

Drink , Porn, Chatrooms.

I am sure you will not be saying your prayers.

Time to move on as the clergy likely spot you a mile away shame some Bishops do not see things as others do


Pat – Have you heard what happened to Gerard Quirke (Westport) – not sure if you’re familiar – apparently had an “accident” – seems all hush hush.


He fell off his bike and was quite badly hurt but he is going to be fine. I’m sure he will be glad of your “concern” ya twisted bollox.


Nothing hush-hush about it. His bicycle accident was mentioned on Facebook with prayers requested. Talk about #fakenews


Martin Brennan as a Spiritual Director in the Irish College Rome in the 1980s broke the seal as they call it. That gave rise to Mons. Brady ( Hanley was in charge but had no interest for his own reasons !!!!!) doing a bit of what the Irish Bishops call ” horse trading “…..certain judgements were made….there was a strong Derry and Down+Connor connection. Some rose, some fell as is the way they do it…..There was a Cape Town connection ( I knew him well for some years….totally platonic !!!) and the Mons. just deceased in Ossory could spin a yarn or two on it all. The author was only skimming the surface I assure anyone who may not deride me…my words always chosen carefully and my spelling mistakes deliberate…the last comment relates to the blogger who blogged that I need to return to Phil. and Eng. classes some months ago…he in so doing disclosed the manner of his own education !!!!!


Arinze – a most awful man with appalling manners. Has an air of entitlement and exudes arrogance. He thinks everyone should bow before him and walks round the place as if he owns it.


That could be misconstrued as racist – the world has gone to pieces if people think like that.


The Church, amongst its clerical class and its apparatchiks, is an almost exclusively male society living an isolated existence in essence from the rest of humanity. That is the way it has been constructed as an institutional establishment, including everything from the Papal Household down to the small village presbytery / rectory. Oh, yes, there will be the odd smattering of the female – nuns, housekeepers etc – but it is essentially a male society and economy. That in itself is enough to make the Church a rather strange edifice set apart from the normal existence of the vast majority of people who live their lives in much more mixed societies, especially in terms of gender. Yes, the Church does try to spiritualise this way of existence, but in reality it runs counter to the most natural and normal instincts of human beings. It is no surprise then, that in this idiosyncratic way of living, there will be dysfunction of the type that is the subject of today’s blog. This way of life does have some strengths which serve the purposes of the Church, but at a heavy price. And we see that price everyday in odd, dysfunctional, abusive behaviour by members of this caste, to such an extent in terms of damage to the individuals themselves and to those around them as well as to the institution that it is surely well past the point where people should be asking about the continuation of such a culture. The answer ? Simple. Bring this culture in to the mainstream, making it a mixed society of women and men, and a culture where relationships are valued as healthy and life-giving. The dolt headed intransigence to refuse to consider even the smallest change for the better is mind boggling, especially when we see laid out before us day after day the insidious and existential damage that is being done to the Church and to us by continuing to uphold this discredited clerical culture.


9.52 the modern day RCC has fallen for false dichotomies, taken belief out of our homes and relationships, and has put it in the buildings, organisations and “mysticism”. Not counting all the pretend laity on the “church” related quangoes.
How many laity – even in the new movements – heard (during the last 60 years) that Divine Office even exists? The RCC is founded on body language – appearances – a meme – image – the least horribleness to the least people (and that’s horrible) – and no longer on Holy Spirit Scriptural principle for diverse living.


Discursive anomalies notwithstanding, and peripheral boundaries of intellectualism now accepted, we have resolved, fraternally, much on this blog if fallacious wanderings.


Arinze the arrogant twat refused my Lacization when Benedict was Pope. He said it was because I did not state that I wanted to be reconciled with the Church. Then Francis came along. It’s all good now.


None at all. I normally do a week in Jan / Feb and a week in Oct – both outside my wedding season.

All in on hold.


11.45: Pat, recently you said you have luttle in your bank a/c.. Really? What with only taking 2 weeks holidays, are you doing with the fortune you receive through weddings of all shades? You are not being truthful re: money!!!


Today I have £ 302 in my bank account. At different stages I pre book, separately, flights, accommodation etc.
I get £ 300 a wedding. I have not received a wedding fee to 3 months now. I use my state pension and wedding fees for daily expenses – car repayments, car insurance, MOT, gas, electricity, food etc.. there is no secret. I make a full self employed declaration to the tax man every year.

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I can confirm that Brendan Marshall has been having discussions with Fr. Peter McAnenley regarding his eventual return. It is all hush hush.
The rot goes to top on this one Pat


Before I return again to Great Silence I wish to state as I did before;

George Pell was an innocent man….Australia in its final decision saw Justice done.
George Pell was stitched up by two senior Roman Cardinals. I blogged their names before…one played Tennis with Pinochet and the other; JP2 used to take a helicopter to go and see him wherever he was, yes the pope did him worship so powerful was he ….only within the church . The Italian State had/have him where they want him.

George Pell is a good man essentially, too good as it turns out for what he sold his soul for: The R.C.C.


Excellent last point Bill & I always believed what I was told by those who knew Pell, about he himself, though like him blinkered about the organisational background.
Instead of keeping the failings regional within Victoria (a complicit state) these had to be made global (in a somewhat similar way to the McCarrick and CMO’C affairs) by first giving him a genuine but short-lived job scaring financial crooks (leaving open all the actual outcomes) then subjecting him to a “light diversion”.
At the end of which only the (non-mob) public of Victoria remember. And who are they to judge.


12.07 a most valuable additional angle. Co-resident priests must have been horrified to realise what they had witnessed unbeknownst to them. They needed “reassuring” for “whatever” reasons.
I wonder if “homophobes” think they are firing warning shots across those whom they have “dirt” on, whereas in reality due to their muddled framework they don’t come over convincingly.
The two – and their co-residents – must have been mentored by promotees of the sort of canon Bp Pat recalled the other day.


Archbishop Ward was a lovely dedicated Holy Man and was a Capuchin.

When he went to Cardiff is a guess and was set up.

Wales is a horrible place be interesting what Cardinal Vincent recommends for Wales.

Sadly the UK Capuchins have to become a branch of the Irish Province in October.


I had a big problem in Hereford area Pat in the late 90’s. I’m sure you don’t know the place. John Ward travelled from Cardiff to visit and listen to me and supported me. He was a very humane man. I will never forget that experience. Speak as you find is my motto. I saw his name mentioned today earlier on your blog, that’s my experience of the man.


Have the homo mafia been known to go to great longths to set up people who speak up?
Is this a known phenomenon?


Pat you could try to ask Fr. Mullaney for the use of his Villa a week, its very private with pool, bar and the decor inside is full of Male nude paintings.


2 35: You need to grow up. See a therapist, you pervert. You are an idiotic, infantilic fool. God h-e-l-p you. Pat, why do you perpetuate and support these fools?


An unworthy and reprehensible comment. Will this sleazy fetishizing of a decent man ever end? I agree with @3:01pm.


3.00, I didn’t know personally Henry Tudor (the eighth of that name) either, but I can tell you that he was an absolute c**t.


Poor Alf, aka Brian Moseley. A Shipley man. The story of his statue in Shipley was just as sad as his character. It was tragic.


Was that Gail Potter’s mum? Many women and not a few men thought that Gail’s beau, Brian Tilsley 💪 was HOT 😋. His mother, Ivy, was very devout and she had a crucifix on the wall. She put up with no nonsense.


Even statues of roly-poly shopkeepers probably aren’t safe these days and would come toppling down.

I see the bishops of England and Wales are completely woke when it comes to racism. Probably other conferences of bishops throughout the world are saying similar things. All very good. I concur.
However, I can’t help remembering that the embracing social justice of our Catholic Church stops short so often. The same bishops who will be saying all the usual formulaic things about racism and the Church’s commitment to social justice, will be the same bishops, as members of the Roman Catholic institution and establishment, who will quite readily go along with discrimination and prejudice and denial of social justice and human rights to a variety of other groups who do not fit so comfortably in to their world and Church view. LGBTQ+ people, in particular. They will try to say all sorts of emollient things on the surface to sound as though they are being open, kind, good, christian, outreaching to us, but scratch the surface and the teeth and claws will come out and we will be denied our place, our rights, our respect and our dignity in all sorts of ways. Remember, you can still lose your job in a Catholic institution for being gay and living your life as a gay person, in a country where being gay and living as a gay person is definitely not a crime ! When push comes to shove, our bishops will let us know that they really do not want us to be part of the embrace of the Church, and that they would rather we just went away. They will still talk about us in terms of sin and as fundamentally and intrinsically disordered. That’s their starting point, as in so many other issues – obsessed with sex and the genitals. So, I really don’t take their expressions of solidarity and commitment to justice in all its forms very seriously. They pick and chose. According to their prejudices. They haven’t chosen me to be within their economy of salvation, community and love. So, + Wilson and the other Southwark bishops – take your care and compassion and commitment elsewhere and shove it. Because you do not accept, love and include US !


At 2:46pm, would you ever p*** away off? The likes of you will never be happy and will always be determined to find fault and be “offended”. Have another we sip out of your High Dudgeon tankard there. Get over yourself.


Big Mabel at 4:00pm – ach would you ever catch a grip! They are as equal as the rest of us.

The same 10 commandments applies to all us and must govern our behaviour no what our sexual attraction.

The LGBT agenda is viciously aggressive towards anyone who isn’t prepared to accept their IDEOLOGIES.

They are not “poor little innocent victims”. They are victimisers who will do all in their power to destroy anyone and silence anyone who refuses to kowtow to them.

Not all same sex attracted people buy into the LGBTQ ideology – for that is what it is – a worldview that is utterly intolerant of anyone who sees the world in a different light.

No “live and let live” with them. If they sense you are not in “agreement” or if you look crooked at their agenda, they will set out to crush you and shut you up.

Thank God they didn’t get their way with Asher’s bakery and that young couple dared to take them on.


2.06: You performed a wedding recently in your front yard….you had pictures of it on your blog…Did you actually not receive a fee for that wedding even though both you and the couple broke government protocols by allowing the couple to travel from Cork!!!!!


I received that payment 6 months ago. That wedding was postponed because of Covid several times. It became a necessity because the couple were emigrating. The small group of people at the wedding were all from one household. Before allowing it I discussed it fully with the Government registrar.

I had another wedding on Sunday, booked 5 months ago and paid for then. It was outdoors with only the couple and 7 others present, all sitting 2 meters apart.

I’m advised not by YOU, but by my local government registrar.


Bishop Pat why do you rise to the bait of these people if you do everything as you do above board then do not waste your time.
Maybe tomorrow in the catholic church we celebrate saint john the Baptist so made a thought provoking exercise for some in how to be a True Christian and try and live the Gospel.
“Prepare you the way”


These Maynooth “survivors” – there’s a queue of them all the way down Prince’s Gardens looking for Pat isn’t there?


@5.04pm Archbishop Ward may have allegedly made misjudgements but he was a proper gentleman. The nasty queens got to him in the end. They are doing the same in the Church today but 20 years later.


I am glad to read positive appraisals of Archbishop Ward RIP. I confess that I had been influenced by the usual clerical cabals into having a negative view of him without having had any personal contact with him. It is extraordinary how inner circles can influence popular opinion viz. the apotheosis of Basil Hume on very dubious grounds. In Basil’s day you were either in or out. That applied both too his own diocese, where his judgment could be appalling, and to his fellow bishops given his personal “supremacy”. I have always suspected that Couve de Murville of Birmingham has been unfairly traduced and made to carry the can for a multitude of misjudgments in that period – just like Ward of Cardiff. Basil on the other hand basked in the esteem of the British establishment, and didn’t he love it?


I agree with most of what you say.
However, Cardinal Hume was a very humble and prayerful man. He loved meeting the ordinary parishioners as he did his diocesan rounds. He did much with canon P. O’Donohue (now Bishop Emeritus of Lancaster Diocese) administrator of Westminster Cathedral for the homeless in the Westminster area. The Passage day centre is just one example. There are many more.


I had a spot of trouble in Newport many years ago, i’m not proud of that fact. —
I was fascinated today that a friend drew my attention to J A Ward mentioned on your web page. John A helped me more than people will ever realise. What priest could say that now about their bishop? He was a total gentleman. RiP


Magna knew a lot about Benedict. He said that this man knew more than any other person at the Vatican the extent of child sexual abuse by priests around the world.
Why aren’t more people calling for him to be tried for crimes against humanity? Where are all the good priests on this very serious issue?
Pat I think you should do a blog on Benedict. His crimes are very serious indeed.


Pat it strikes me living with the troubles in the North and beyond the North plus Church abuse too – nobody can expect any closure soon


Pat – why are you allowing MAGNA back under the name George…he hasn’t changed. Still the same vile, contemptible, hat inciting madman. Ban him completely. Your blog attracts more people without this pathetic specimen. He debases all commentators.


This isn’t actually a comment about Pell as such, but about knowing paedophiles. The trouble is that some are very convincing indeed as to their goodness and may genuinely believe it themselves. I myself once knew a religious priest who is now in prison and was incredibly helpful and kind to me. I wasn’t the only person to be surprised when he was arrested for a string of offences stretching back way before he was a priest.
This is why allegations need to be dealt with seriously – because some of these people will not have criminal records and won’t come across as creepy.



You are not welcome on this blog anymore.
If you persist I will do what I can to identify you and ask the authorities to investigate you .


You seem very over sensitive to Johnny Ward. You were probably one of his detractors. Too many clergy being spoiled bishops in Cardiff complaining – his words – not mine. Too many in every diocese.


9.20: Pat, you have made a very courageous decision, morally and ethically. I admire your decisiveness. Thank you for listening to many of your contributors.


Today I watched a Mass being read online in Liverpool. +Pat, I now know what a narcissistic injued looks and behaves like; I am absoluty lost for words, and I am even more thankful that my persistence in raising the alarm was maintained to the end. Not just for my own healing process but to prevent him from doing anymore reckless damage to another person.
The really rightening thing is, these people are very, very, dangerous and highly manipulative. They have NO regard others feelings or how their abusive actions affect their victims and their families.
There is not even the slightest sign of remorse or shame; they are completely consumed within their own ego and the theatrics which provide their narcissistic supply.
I will close on a pastoral note: these people are children of God and deserve to be loved and cared for just the same you and I do. Love is the answer. Always.
However, our loving and caring must not be confined or insula to just one area or person; it has be be understood in the capacity of community and/ or the Christian family. Genuine love cannot work any other way and we all have a duty to keep each other safe and happy to some degree. Some are charged with this specific task, and and any dereliction of this charge could be met with fractured trust as well as being sent to prison in order to protect you and I.
Love can seem cruel.


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