Pope Francis on corruption, 'gay lobby' in Roman Curia

Pope Francis on corruption, 'gay lobby' in Roman Curia


The pope with officials of Latin American Conference of Religious 

(UPDATED with statement from CLAR below)

A Chilean website has published a partial account of a conversation in which Pope Francis purportedly confirms the existence of a “gay lobby” in the Vatican, warns of a “restorationist” movement in the church and frankly confesses his own disorganization when it comes to governing.

The pope is said to have made the remarks in a conversation June 6 with top officials of the Latin American Conference of Religious. The partial text was published Sunday by the Reflexion y liberacion website, and translated today into English by the Rorate Caeli website.

I asked Father Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman about the authenticity of the text, and he responded: “The meeting of the Holy Father with the presidency of CLAR was a meeting of a private nature. I therefore have no statement to make on the proceedings or on the content of the conversation.”

It’s important to point out that the text appears to be more working notes than an actual transcript, with plenty of ellipses. That means that nuances and qualifiers may have been lost along the way.

Nevertheless, the text appears to echo the tone of Pope Francis’ off-the-cuff comments on other occasions. And it would seem that if anything patently false were reported, the Vatican would not have passed on the opportunity to knock it down.

Asked about his plans to reform the Roman Curia, the pope is quoted as saying:

And, yes... it is difficult. In the Curia, there are also holy people, really, there are holy people. But there also is a stream of corruption, there is that as well, it is true... The "gay lobby" is mentioned, and it is true, it is there... We need to see what we can do...

And later:

Reform of the Roman Curia almost everyone asked for in general congregations: I am very disorganized, I have never been good at this. But the cardinals of the Commission will move it forward.

The pope used the term “gay lobby” in the original Spanish, and he appeared to be referencing newspaper reports from last March, which alleged that a network of gay clerics inside the Vatican wielded great influence and was the subject of an investigation ordered by the retired Pope Benedict.

The account of Pope Francis’ conversation with CLAR officials begins with the pope apparently referring to the Vatican’s recent investigation of U.S. sisters, and the relationship between the doctrinal congregation and religious orders:

They will make mistakes, they will make a blunder, this will pass! Perhaps even a letter of the Congregation for the Doctrine (of the Faith) will arrive for you, telling you that you said such or such thing... But do not worry. Explain whatever you have to explain, but move forward... Open the doors, do something there where life calls for it.

The pope identified two particular concerns. First, “restorationist groups” that would take the church backward in its practices, such as measuring spiritual value in the number of rosaries recited.

Second, he said, a certain pantheism of an educated elite. “I heard of a superior general that prompted the sisters of her congregation to not pray in the morning, but to spiritually bathe in the cosmos, things like that.”

UPDATE: CLAR officials apologized in a statement today for the publication of what they said was a synthesis of participants' impressions following the meeting with Pope Francis. No recording of the meeting was made, the statement said, and therefore the synthesis was not a verbatim text.

"It is clear that, based on this, one cannot attribute to the Holy Father, with certainty, the specific expressions contained in the text, but only the general sense," it said.


Here is the Rorate Caeli translation of the text published by Reflexion y liberacion:

Audience with Pope Francis

CLAR, 06.06.13

"Open the doors... Open the doors!"

They will make mistakes, they will make a blunder [meter la pata], this will pass! Perhaps even a letter of the Congregation for the Doctrine (of the Faith) will arrive for you, telling you that you said such or such thing... But do not worry. Explain whatever you have to explain, but move forward... Open the doors, do something there where life calls for it. I would rather have a Church that makes mistakes for doing something than one that gets sick for being closed up...

(on his election) I did not lose my peace [of mind - no perdí la paz] at any moment, you know? And this is not from myself, I am of the kind that gets worried, that gets upset... But I did not lose my peace at any moment. This confirms to me that this comes from God...

(upon mentioning to him the hope that his gestures at this time have brought us, he makes reference to having stayed at Santa Marta) ....these gestures... they have not come from me. They have not occurred to me. It is not as if I had brought a plan, nor that I have made one myself once elected. I do it because I felt this was what the Lord wanted. But these gestures are not mine, there is Someone else here... this gives me confidence.

I came [to Rome] only with the necessary clothes, I washed them at night, and suddenly this... And I did not have any chance! In the London betting houses I was in 44th place, look at that, the one who bet on me won a lot, of course...! This does not come from me...

It is necessary to shake things up [flip things over, lit. dar vuelta (a) la tortilla]. It is not news that an old man dies of cold in Ottaviano [Rorate note: referring to the surroundings of via Ottaviano and the Ottaviano Rome Metro station, near the Vatican], or that there be so many children with no education, or hungry, I think of Argentina...On the other hand, the main stock exchanges go up or down 3 points, and this is a world event. One must shake things up! This cannot be. Computers are not made in the image and likeness of God; they are an instrument, yes, but nothing more. Money is not image and likeness of God. Only the person is image and likeness of God. It is necessary to flip it over. This is the gospel.

It is necessary to go to the causes, to the roots. Abortion is bad, but that is clear. But behind the approval of this law, what interests are behind it... they are at times the conditions posed by the great organizations to support with money, you know that? It is necessary to go to the causes, we cannot remain only in the symptoms. Do not be afraid to denounce... you will suffer, you will have problems, but do not be afraid to denounce, that is the prophecy of religious life...

I share with you two concerns. One is the Pelagian current that there is in the Church at this moment. There are some restorationist groups. I know some, it fell upon me to receive them in Buenos Aires. And one feels as if one goes back 60 years! Before the Council... One feels in 1940... An anecdote, just to illustrate this, it is not to laugh at it, I took it with respect, but it concerns me; when I was elected, I received a letter from one of these groups, and they said: "Your Holiness, we offer you this spiritual treasure: 3,525 rosaries." Why don't they say, 'we pray for you, we ask...', but this thing of counting... And these groups return to practices and to disciplines that I lived through - not you, because you are not old - to disciplines, to things that in that moment took place, but not now, they do not exist today...

The second [concern] is for a Gnostic current. Those Pantheisms... Both are elite currents, but this one is of a more educated elite... I heard of a superior general that prompted the sisters of her congregation to not pray in the morning, but to spiritually bathe in the cosmos, things like that... They concern me because they ignore the incarnation! And the Son of God became our flesh, the Word was made flesh, and in Latin America we have flesh abundantly [de tirar al techo]! What happens to the poor, their pains, this is our flesh...

The gospel is not the old rule, nor this Pantheism. If you look at the periphery; the destitute... the drug addicts! The traffic of people... This is the gospel. The poor are the gospel...

(upon mentioning the hardship of being in charge of the Roman Curia, and the commission of cardinals who will support him, etc.) And, yes... it is difficult. In the Curia, there are also holy people, really, there are holy people. But there also is a stream of corruption, there is that as well, it is true... The "gay lobby" is mentioned, and it is true, it is there... We need to see what we can do...

The reform of the Roman Curia is something that almost all Cardinals asked for in the Congregations preceding the Conclave. I also asked for it. I cannot promote the reform myself, these matters of administration... I am very disorganized, I have never been good at this. But the cardinals of the Commission will move it forward. There is Rodríguez Maradiaga, who is Latin American, who is in front of it, there is Errázuriz, they are very organized. The one from Munich is also very organized. They will move it forward.

Pray for me... that I make mistakes the least possible...

Aparecida is not over. [Rorate note: the reference is to the 5th General Conference of the Latin American Episcopate, held in the Marian shrine of Aparecida, Brazil, in 2007. See our lengthy coverage of the meeting in our Aparecida Notes series.] Aparecida is not simply a document. It was an event. Aparecida was a different thing. First, because there was no working draft. There were suggesions, but not a draft. And in the end, there was no document either, but on the eve of the final day, we had 2,300 "notes"... Aparecida moved towards the continental mission. There ends Aparecida, in the push towards mission.

What Aparecida had that was special was that it was not celebrated in a hotel, nor in a retreat house... it was celebrated in a Marian shrine. During the week, we celebrated the eucharist and there were some 250 people, because it was a regular workday. But on the weekends, it was full....! The people of God joined the Bishops, asking for the Holy Spirit...

I saw - I name him because I see him more standoffish, more like this, he is good, but he is like that - I saw the Prefect, João [Rorate note: João Braz de Aviz, then-Archbishop of Brasilia, now Cardinal-Prefect of Religious], who went out with his miter, and people got close to him, and they brought the children near, and he greeted them, and hugged them like this... This same bishop then voted. He could not have voted the same way as if he had been in a hotel!

We had the meeting rooms under the Shrine. So the background music were the chants, the celebrations in the Shrine... This made it very special.

There is something that concerns me, even though I do not know now to understand it. There are religious congregations, very, very tiny groups, a few persons, very old people... They have no vocations, what do I know, the Holy Spirit do not want them to go on, perhaps they have already fulfilled their mission in the Church, I do not know... But there they are, clinging to their buildings, clinging to money... I do not know why this happens, I do not know how to understand it. But I ask you to be concerned with these groups... The management of money... is something that needs to be reflected upon.

Enjoy this moment that we live in the Congregation for Consecrated Life... It is a moment of sunshine... Enjoy. The Prefect [Cardinal Aviz] is good. And the Secretary [Abp. Rodríguez Carballo, OFM], that was "lobbied" by you! No, really, being the president of USG [Union of Superiors General], the logical thing was that it would be him! It's better...

Place all your effort in the dialogue with the Bishops. With CELAM [Latin American Episcopal Conference], with the national conferences... I know there are some who have a different idea of communion, but... Talk, speak with them, tell them...

18 comments (Add your own)

1. Lowell Rinker wrote:
From a pragmatic perspective, I think the vast majority of Catholics expect that there will be no major shift in how gays are viewed within the Church, and what position the Church will take formally. With that being said, I am hopeful that the "Open the doors" position will manifest itself in a church that, while perhaps not endorsing the gay lifestyle, it will nonetheless welcome them as an integral part of our faith community. If the Catholic church is to recapture its status as a vibrant and relevant force in people's lives, it needs to embrace and not judge....last I knew, judging is God's job.

Tue, June 11, 2013 @ 10:01 AM

2. Kelly wrote:
Rio is going to be fun, especially if Francis ends up taking questions from the press. (Although I'm sure that Lombardi is anticipating the headaches.). I do appreciate the fact that the Pope is incapable of reciting talking points and says what is actually on his mind. It is refreshing to hear such candor from a world leader.

Tue, June 11, 2013 @ 11:27 AM

3. Robert wrote:
"The pope identified two particular concerns. First, “restorationist groups” that would take the church backward in its practices, such as measuring spiritual value in the number of rosaries recited."

ohh deliver us from such bad things as Catholics who devoutly pray the Rosary for the sake that we will have a Papacy that will lead maximum souls to Heaven!

I find it scary that this pope has a tendency to snigger at, and mock the devout.

Tue, June 11, 2013 @ 12:36 PM

4. Trish wrote:
I do not think the Holy Father is sniggering. Does the recitation of large numbers of rosaries constitute the only measure of a devout life? Obviously not, or all those believers who pre-date the invention the rosary were not devout!

I think each Pope in my life time has had a "signature" style or cause that has spoken to some of us more than others. Just three examples: John Paul II apparently assisted in the fall of communism and promoted faith among young people, Benedict VI has written profoundly and engagingly on the nature of Christ and showed us that a Pope can retire if he can no longer manage the arduous task of leadership, and Francis is calling us to widen our horizons and engage in the way of discipleship with all people. All of these efforts have had an impact on the Church and the world.

Tue, June 11, 2013 @ 1:37 PM

5. Robert wrote:
This pope is a very confused soul. All his utterances are barely coherent. He mocks those who offer up thousands of rosaries on his behalf, saying that by counting the quantity makes them somehow deficient. This same pope courted favour from devout by asking them to pray three Hail Marys for him. well I guess he thinks that 'less is more'. but it still involves counting. We are living in strange days indeed right now.

Tue, June 11, 2013 @ 2:36 PM

6. Br. Tony Jukes, S.S.S. wrote:
The old adage is worth remembering: There is ‘speech’ and “reported speech”…

That Pope Francis encourages dialogue seems most wise, sensible and mature to me; not only in the field of consecrated life, but on ecumenism, with our bishops, with other Faiths, etc., etc.

I doubt from what we know and have witnessed about the Rosary and our Holy Father [i.e. his public recitation at Saint Mary Major Basilica on 4 May, and also in St. Peter’s Square on the Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, 31 May] that His Holiness was passing a negative criticism of the Rosary, but perhaps on those who heap-up numerous phrases [Cf. Mt. 6:7].

Tue, June 11, 2013 @ 3:01 PM

7. Joannie wrote:
I was glad to see the Pope is aware of the "Lavender Mafia" that was mentioned back after the Pope Emeritus had retired. I am also glad that with some help he will look into it because the "Vatileaks" had ties to this. As far as the Traditionalists he was probably had in mind the SSPV and SSPX not Catholics who are Traditional but accept Vatican II. As far as accepting Same Sex People, that is already going on with groups like Courage, the Pope also knows he will make mistakes but he did have his Papacy consecrated to Our Lady of Fatima so I don't think we have to worry about serious blunders he also knows the Pope Emeritus is aware of what he is doing though Arch Georg.

Tue, June 11, 2013 @ 3:08 PM

8. Silversaw wrote:
I feel encouraged by the statement "They will make mistakes, they will make a blunder, this will pass! Perhaps even a letter of the Congregation for the Doctrine (of the Faith) will arrive for you, telling you that you said such or such thing... But do not worry. Explain whatever you have to explain, but move forward... Open the doors, do something there where life calls for it."

To me, it means a letter from the CDF needs consideration and an answer explaining the truth of the matter from the recipients' side. I like the way he say, 'move forward..... open the doors, do something there where life calls for it."

I interpret this to mean 'life in the Spirit' calling us, sensum fidelum after much prayerful considerations.

Tue, June 11, 2013 @ 3:16 PM

9. Alex wrote:
Pope Francis is guided by the Holy Spirit. We need to listen to him.

Tue, June 11, 2013 @ 3:58 PM

10. Ana wrote:
From everything we've heard re PF in the past, that he keeps cards close to his chest, that he is tough and so on, I wonder how much of this is true. As some journalists have noted, there have been very few leaks from the Vatican lately, because the Pope doesn't let on that much. Wasn't there something oddly reported re the encylical on Faith also?
He is a candid person, sure, but, considering that the CLAR statement also says that they did not seek authorization to publish, I'd be tempted to take these comments in a general and not specific sense. Some of it sounds like him, yes, and some of it doesn't. there is a lot here that is of interest to the future of the Church, but the world seems sort of stuck on the phrase 'gay lobby'.

Tue, June 11, 2013 @ 6:14 PM

11. Yae wrote:
I can understand some of what is "quoted by" Papa Francis but I do not like the fact that it was leaked as this was supposed to be a secret meeting. Meh...not surprised though since some folks cannot hold their tongue.

Not sure what to make of some of the commentary as related to Papa Francis since after reading this article, I came away with the sense that much prayer is needed for him and for our beloved Church. I still believe personal conversion is what is most important for each and every one of us.

As far as the so-called Gay Mafia is concerned...Papa Francis sure has his plate full. I bet Papa Benedict is peaceful in his retirement and happy to no longer deal with such burdens. And as far as his being "watchful" of what Papa Francis may say or do, well, he is no longer in any position of authority to say anything either way. I doubt he would anyway as it seems not to be his style after all, he has already pledged his full fidelity and respect to Papa Francis...before the conclave (to whom ever would be elected) and afterwards, when they met at Castel Gandolfo.

One thing's for sure, Papa Benedict is praying for him as he is praying for the rest of us. That thought is one of great comfort to me. May the graces of the office of St. Peter continue to transform Papa Francis. Amen!

Tue, June 11, 2013 @ 9:00 PM

12. Yae wrote:
Meh...I guess my initial gut reaction to this story was right. I had doubts but decided to wait and see and well, now, the folks who met with Papa Francis seem to be doing some sort of clarification/damage control over old news that many of us have long suspected and were not surprised by.

I wonder if the long arm of the Vatican reached across the aisles and twisted some arms to make this happen. An interesting and amusing thought...ah well, another day at the office I suppose. ^^

Wed, June 12, 2013 @ 3:18 PM

13. Tim wrote:
Robert, how dare you say these things - have you no love for the Holy Father? This is not a man who "sniggers". But he knows that the Church cannot go back to where it was in a previous age. Because that age has GONE and the Church must labour to sanctify the world of today. Pope Francis is certainly NOT disparaging those who say the Rosary - it's absurd to suggest it. There is nothing confusing about the personality of this generous-hearted priest. When I was young, it was unheard-of to express scepticism about the Holy Father or purport to identify his weaknesses. But now its so different. There have been many Catholics dissatisfied with the limitations of Pope Emeritus Benedict - a truly great professor of theology and a beloved bishop! Now, it seems, there are Catholics - like you, it seems - dissatisfied with the perceived inadequacies of Pope Francis. It is so disloyal - can you not see that?

Thu, June 13, 2013 @ 6:03 AM

14. Miguel A. Ortiz wrote:
Stop critisizing and judging the Pope. If is bad to critizise a priest what do you thing the Holly Pope. I have faith in him and I pray for him every day.

He is present (regalo) of God. I really believe he will help the Church with God's wisdom

Thu, June 13, 2013 @ 7:22 AM

15. Margaret wrote:
Poor Pope Francis! Let's pray for him and for the restoration of the Holy Roman Catholic Church!

Thu, June 13, 2013 @ 2:13 PM

16. Liz McDermott wrote:
I think we should try to not bicker among ourselves about the style and content of Pope Francis' reported comments (which also may be inaccurate or out of context). No one is perfect, not even the Holy Father but we are blessed to have such wise and holy men to lead us in our lifetime. Bickering and complaining ill becomes us and is not how Jesus Christ wants us to treat eachother. The early Church had its fair share of disagreements but it was only by gaining solidarity and unity through the grace of the Holy Spirit to overcome their differences that the Church was able to flourish. Arguing holds us back.

Fri, June 14, 2013 @ 6:30 PM

17. Jim McCrea wrote:
I always love the particular concern exhibited over the “Gay Lifestyle.” I am a gay man in a committed relationship with the same man for 41 years. I look around at straight society and find it hard to differentiate “lifestyles.” Promiscuity exists within the straight world as it does within the LGBT worlds. So does life-affirming long-standing commitment (how many hear can beat our 41 years?). Some couples raise children; others do not. Some straights and LGBT are religious/political/committed to others; some are not.

The only difference that I have ever discovered is the gender of the ones to whom we commit ourselves/ignore/support/attack/etc.

Wed, June 19, 2013 @ 4:23 PM

18. FXR wrote:
Robert,

I too was concerned about the comment regarding persons who attach a weight to the number of prayers said. However.
1. ST Paul exhorts us to pray ALWAYS. That's pretty specific. Pray always. Be grateful for each moment, regarding it from the reference of the God who gave us that moment and who continues to allow us to exist within a spirit of love. That's a good goal.
2. Padre Pio, St Benedict, Pope John Paul the Second, and other saints prayed often every day, sometimes for hours. Were they chided for praying according to a timeclock? No. No one bugged them tapping a watch. They were allowed to dwell in that internal monologue with God. They prayed for many things and persons.
3. Praying for the holy souls in purgatory. Their needs don't stop with one rosary.

Lastly, there is however, that species of Catholic who sits in church, praying in what could be called a shallow self serving manner, who recites a rosary but then gets angry with anyone who crosses their paths. And these same souls also cant seem to find time for any real acts of charity or selflessness. They are like the servant who has no patience with his fellow servants.

St Benedict called hos followers to prayer but also involvement in the world. And community. He leaned away from extremist and rigorous asceticism and isolation. Such actions eventually seem to cause souls to become unbalanced. The church learned this early on with the various monks who would wander into the deserts of Egypt and throughout the mideast. And while they would come closer to God, they also went slightly mad.

So if you think his comments are related to a group like Legion of Mary, forget it. Moreover, I'll bet dimes to dollars it wasn't.

Thu, June 27, 2013 @ 7:02 AM

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