‘Gay clubs’ run in seminaries, says Pope Benedict in posthumous attack on Francis

Pope Francis Catholic Church religion Christianity - Alessandra Benedetti/Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images
Pope Francis Catholic Church religion Christianity - Alessandra Benedetti/Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images

Gay “clubs” operate openly in Catholic seminaries, the institutions that prepare men for the priesthood, the late Pope Benedict XVI has claimed in a posthumously published book scathing of Pope Francis’s progressive agenda.

In a blistering attack on the state of the Catholic Church under his successor’s papacy, Benedict, who died on Dec 31 at the age of 95, said that the vocational training of the next generation of priests is on the verge of “collapse”.

He claimed that some bishops allow trainee priests to watch pornographic films as an outlet for their sexual urges.

Benedict gave instructions that the book, What Christianity Is, should be published after his death.

It is one of a handful of recent books by conservative Vatican figures which have poured scorn on the decade-old papacy of Francis, who was elected after his predecessor’s historic resignation in 2013.

The outpouring of new books contributes to “impressions of a mounting civil war in the Church following the death of Benedict XVI”, according to John Allen, a leading Vatican analyst who writes for Crux, the Catholic news outlet.

The existence of “homosexual clubs” is particularly prevalent in the US, Benedict said in his book, adding: “In several seminaries, homosexual clubs operate more or less openly.”

He cited the example of an American bishop who allegedly allowed his seminarians, or trainee priests, to watch porn films “presumably with the intention of rendering them capable of resisting behaviours contrary to the faith”.

Benedict, whose conservative position on doctrinal matters contrasted with Francis’s more compassionate approach, complained that his previous books were regarded as dangerously traditionalist by some elements of the Church.

“In not a few seminaries, students caught reading my books are considered unworthy for the priesthood. My books are concealed as dangerous literature and are read only in hiding.”

Despite their many differences, Pope Francis also warned recently that priests and even nuns regularly watch porn.

He made the remarks in October, saying that indulging in porn is a danger to the soul and a way of succumbing to the malign influence of “the devil”.