VATICAN CITY — A Vatican official suspended after being caught on hidden camera making advances to a young man says he is not gay and was only pretending to be gay as part of his work.
In an interview published yesterday, Monsignor Tommaso Stenico told La Repubblica that he frequented online gay chat rooms and met with gay men as part of his work as a psychoanalyst. He said he pretended to be gay in order to gather information about "those who damage the image of the church with homosexual activity."
Vatican teaching holds that gays and lesbians should be treated with compassion and dignity but that homosexual acts are "intrinsically disordered."
The Vatican said Saturday it was suspending Monsignor Stenico after he was secretly filmed making advances to a young man and asserting that gay sex was not sinful during a television program on gay priests broadcast October 1 on La7, a private Italian television network.
While Monsignor Stenico's face was blurred in the footage, church officials recognized his Vatican office in the background and suspended him pending a church investigation.
There have long been allegations that there are gays in the Roman Catholic priesthood, but the Stenico case is unusual because he is a relatively high-ranking Vatican official. He heads an office in the Vatican's Congregation for Clergy — the main office overseeing all the world's priests.