A raid on an apartment owned by the Catholic Church office charged with investigating sexual abuse charges against the clergy has resulted in criminal charges being filed against at least one priest.
Vatican police raided the apartment in response to complaints, and found what media reports have said was a gay sex party during which participants were taking illegal drugs.
The apartment is the home of a priest who serves as the secretary for Cardinal Francesco Coccopalmerio, who heads the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, which investigates the rising number of sex abuse cases facing the Catholic Church.
— Nick Donnelly (@ProtectthePope) July 4, 2017
Il Fatto Quotidiano said the raid came in response to complaints from neighbors. Inside, police said they found men getting high and engaging in sexual activity, the paper reports. It said the priest, who was not identified, was arrested and later sent to a spiritual retreat in an Italian convent.
The paper said the raid, which took place at the end of June, may result in the pope seeking Coccopalmerio’s retirement.
Coccopalmerio had recently recommended the unidentified priest become a bishop, but new reports suggest the priest also had two previous alleged drug overdoses, said an International Business Times report.
The latest scandal comes after claims in March that a priest in Naples held gay sex parties and looked for partners online. A priest from Padua, who was denounced by several of his girlfriends, was reportedly facing being defrocked for having up to 30 lovers.
The Vatican recently suffered the blow of having its finance chief, Cardinal George Pell, charged with historical sexual assault charges in his home nation of Australia.
The Australian police have said there were multiple charges and “multiple complainants.”
“It’s not every day that a senior Vatican official is facing criminal charges,” CNN Vatican analyst John Allen said. “It’s going to cast a new spotlight on Pope Francis’ track record in dealing with the abuse crisis, which frankly I think most observers would tell you is kind of mixed.”
“In Australia, George Pell would be seen as kind of the leading symbol of the sex abuse problem. And that’s in part because he has said some things and done some things that victims and lawyers and advocacy groups have seen as insensitive and tone-deaf,” Allen said. “His defenders would have a different line, but that certainly has been the charge.”