World News

Vatican bars gay priest for "anonymous" TV confession

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - The Vatican has suspended a senior priest in the Holy See who acknowledged homosexual relations in a supposedly anonymous television interview, but was identified by superiors from background shots of his office.

In a major embarrassment for the Roman Catholic Church’s hierarchy, Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said on Saturday the monsignor, whose name was not released, was suspended from duty pending an internal investigation.

Local media identified him as a senior figure in a Vatican department which oversees matters relating to priesthood and said he also made regular appearances on Vatican television.

The Catholic Church does not consider homosexual tendencies sinful in themselves but condemns homosexual acts and teaches that priests should adhere to their vow of celibacy.

The priest appeared on a TV documentary with three other clerics, all with their faces and voices distorted to protect their identities, to talk about their homosexuality.

He told “La 7” TV he “did not feel in sin” for being gay but preferred anonymity “to avoid being reprimanded by my superiors, given the current firm position of Catholic doctrine regarding priestly celibacy and homosexuality”.

However, during the interview his office in the Vatican was clearly visible in the background, leading senior clerics to discover his true identity.

Lombardi said the Vatican “had to intervene decisively and severely in a case of behaviour incompatible with priestly duty and the mission of the Holy See”.