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Storm sparked by Swiss Guard confirming Vatican 'gay lobby'

'Hypocrisy the real threat to the Church' says LGBT group

20 January, 15:40
Storm sparked by Swiss Guard confirming Vatican 'gay lobby' (ANSA) - Rome, January 20 - A centre-right gay advocacy group on Monday said the alleged existence of a gay lobby in the Vatican is less a threat to the church than hypocrisy.

"I would call the lobby of cardinals preaching against gays and their rights and then hitting on Swiss guards a lobby of hypocrites," said Enrico Oliari, the founder of GayLib, a self-styled LGBT, liberal-democratic and centre-right association dating back to 1997.

This follows an interview that appeared in a Swiss magazine on Sunday in which a former Swiss Guard commander alleged that a gay lobby he says is operating within the Vatican constitutes a security risk to Pope Francis. "I know from personal experience the gay lobby exists," Elmar Maeder told Swiss weekly Schweiz am Sonntag. "It is made up of people so loyal to one another they're practically a secret society. When loyalty is in question, it becomes a security risk".

Maeder, 51, led what is the world's oldest and smallest army from 2002-2008.

A former Swiss guard told the same magazine he was propositioned by a cardinal and by another high Vatican official while on his tour of duty in the Vatican.

"We're tired of bishops and cardinals insulting us from the pulpit in the morning, writing tirades against us at noon and abusing or paying Swiss guards to have sex with them at night," Oliari said.

"If Pope Francis wants us to, we are ready to make up a security task force for him. We are openly gay, and we don't need to skulk under the cover of complicity, secrecy and blackmail".

"With Pope Francis, the church has an opportunity to review its sex-phobic outlook, which dates back thousands of years," GayLib secretary Daniele Priori added.

A spokesman for the 110-man army founded by Pope Julius II in 1506 downplayed the issue.

"Our men focus on religious and military matters. Rumors of a gay lobby within the Vatican are really not our problem," Urs Breitenmoser said. The papal army is recruited from a group of Swiss towns and villages, which for centuries have provided the pope's security watchdogs.

During the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, the Swiss had the reputation of being Europe's most reliable mercenaries - tough fighters who hardly ever changed sides.

The pope himself admitted in June to having to contend with competing factions including a gay lobby.