As cardinals from around the world gather to select the next pope, the Vatican faces yet another public relations debacle with the revelation that it owns a $32-million share in a Roman apartment block whose tenants include Europe’s largest gay bathhouse.
The U.K. newspaper The Independent reported that 19 Vatican officials and priests live in the apartment complex, including Cardinal Ivan Dias, the head of the Congregation for Evangelisation of Peoples. He is among those scheduled to participate in tomorrow’s papal conclave at the Sistine Chapel.
Dias reportedly lives in a 12-room apartment on the first floor of the building at 2 Via Carducci, “just yards from the ground-floor entrance to the steamy flesh pot,” according to The Independent.
News of the Holy See’s connection to Europa Multiclub comes on the heels of the resignation of Great Britain’s top Catholic following charges he had improper relationships with priests. Disgraced Scottish cardinal Keith O’Brien was one of Europe’s shrillest opponents to same-sex marriage before the charges were made public. O’Brien, who faces a possible police investigation as a result of the scandal, has stepped down from his position in the church.
Leaks from sources close to the Vatican have claimed that ex-pontiff Benedict XVI had quit in reaction to the presence of a gay cabal in the curia that put some staffers at risk of blackmail. Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Pope Emeritus Benedict’s widely disliked right-hand man, who held the Vatican’s purse strings during the last pontificate, was said to have been the brains behind the purchase of 2 Via Carduccio in 2008, according to The Independent.
Europa Multiclub website promotes one of its special “bear nights” with a video in which a rotund, hairy man strips down before changing into a priest’s outfit.