The Vatican, fresh from sweating over choosing the next pope, has raised more than a few eyebrows with news that it spent 23 million Euros to buy into a building that also houses Europe’s largest gay sauna.
The building, a Rome apartment block, houses the Europa Multiclub Gym and Sauna as well as a number of palatial accommodations. The Vatican has bought a number of those apartments, though it seems any claim that officials didn’t know of the club’s proximity might be hard to swallow: the sauna is advertised as Italy’s premiere gay leisure house, and may be the largest venue of its kind in Europe.
The Independent reveals Cardinal Ivan Dias, the 76-year-old head of the Congregation for Evangelization of Peoples, “enjoys” a 12-room apartment on the first-floor of the palazzo, just yards from the Europe Multiclub entrance. Dias is an outspoken opponent of gay rights, having referred to gay and lesbian people as needing a cure for their “unnatural tendencies.”
There are around 18 other Vatican-owned apartments in the block, many of which house priests.
What is more, due to tax exemptions passed by the former Berlusconi government, the Holy See is exempt on paying tax on the apartments by virtue of the apartments now being tied to the Holy City.
This comes after one prominent Catholic priest and LGBT rights advocate said it would be a “wonderful thing” if the next pope was gay.
“A homosexual pope would be a magnificent thing. The essence of the Gospel is that we are all God’s sons and daughters and we are all equal as God’s children,” said Don Andrea Gallo to reporters last week. Gallo went on to say he believed homosexual priests need to express their sexuality or else abuse scandals will continue. Gallo also reportedly revealed that as a young priest, he was sexually abused.
The Vatican is refusing to say anything on its acquisition of several gay sauna-adjacent apartments, or whether this is perhaps a new form of outreach to a community it has consistently vilified. Pope Benedict repeatedly inferred gay people as not fully human because they do not enter into opposite-sex relationships, and the church has made its opposition to marriage equality and same-sex couples adopting abundantly clear.
Leading figures in the Catholic church have just selected Pope Benedict XVI’s successor in the form of Jorge Bergoglio, or “Francis I,” as he will now be dubbed. This is the first time a Latin American pope has been chosen, and the first time a non-European has been selected.
Nearly all of the leading candidates for the position had strong anti-gay credentials, and Bergoglio is no different. He has likened gay adoption to child abuse and said in 201o, when Argentina was pushing to become the first Latin American country to legalize marriage equality, that it was a “destructive pretension against the plan of God” and “a machination of the Father of Lies.”
So that would be another vehemently anti-gay pope, then. One wonders if a trip to the sauna could change his mind?
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