Vatican City, Jul 18, 2013 / 05:10 pm (CNA).- The priest appointed last month as an interim prelate of the so-called Vatican Bank is associated with the “gay lobby” at the Holy See, according to an article by analyst Sandro Magister released today.
Magister's column for L'Espresso recounts that Monsignor Battista Mario Salvatore Ricca, who was appointed temporary prelate of the Institute for Works of Religion June 15, had a relationship with another man – the “intimacy” of which was “so open as to scandalize numerous bishops, priests, and laity” of Uruguay, where he served in the nunciature from 1999 to 2004.
Msgr. Ricca was appointed to his position, serving as secretary at meetings of the cardinals' commission on the Vatican Bank and assisting in meetings of the bank's board of superintendents, by the commission with the express approval of Pope Francis.
He was intended to be a part of the reform of the scandal-ridden institution.
Yet “just one week” after the appointment, Pope Francis was informed by sources within the Vatican diplomatic corps of “some episodes from Ricca's past previously unknown to him,” Magister wrote.
When Msgr. Ricca went to the nunciature in Montevideo, he had a residence assigned to his friend Patrick Haari.
In 2000, the new nuncio to Uruguay, Archbishop Janusz Bolonek, found the arrangement “intolerable,” according to Magister. He was able to have Haari dismissed, and Msgr. Ricca transferred, after the priest was found in two compromising situations.
In one of the situations, the monsignor was beaten up, having gone to “a meeting place for homosexuals” in Montevideo, as he had “on other occasions.”By 2004 Msgr. Ricca had been transferred to the Vatican, working for the secretariat of state. Since 2006 he has been charged with the direction of several residences for clerics visiting Rome, including the Saint Martha House, where Pope Francis has taken up residence.
“This allowed him to weave an intricate network of relationships with the highest levels of the Catholic hierarchy all over the world,” according to Magister.
Though Archbishop Bolonek has always been severe in his reports on Msgr. Ricca, Magister said, “at the Vatican there are some who actively promoted” a cover-up of his misdeeds.
But his appointment as prelate of the Vatican bank brought bitterness to the “many” persons who “knew about his scandalous past,” and Pope Francis was finally made aware of it.
Magister wrote that Pope Francis responded to the information with “sadness over having been kept in the dark with regard to such grave matters, and the intention to remedy the appointment he had made.”
CNA was told by Magister July 18 that his article was “verified word for word,” and “constituted on primary sources, including documentation.”
The term "gay lobby" in reference to the Vatican made headlines recently when a group of Latin American religious recorded that Pope Francis acknowledged its existence to them in a June 6 audience.