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behind the scenes of the Vatican's investigation of homosexuality

The author of "Sodoma" chose not to reveal the sexual orientation of the people involved in his investigation.

By Cécile Chambraud Posted today

Time to Reading 1 min.

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The Apostolic Palace, St. Peter's Square, Rome, December 2018.
The Apostolic Palace, St. Peter's Square, Rome, December 2018. TIZIANA FABI / AFP

How to establish the reality and scope of homosexual circles at the top of the Church when we have set as principle – which suffers some exceptions – not to "outer", that is to say, to reveal the sexual orientation of the people concerned when they are still alive? In Sodoma Frederic Martel wants to describe a system, its laws, its excesses, and not to compromise ecclesiastics whose orientation or sexual conduct runs headlong to the morality preached against all odds by the institution to which they have dedicated their lives. How, under these conditions, does he tell this irrecontable story?

The survey is written in the first person. Author, in particular, of several works on the homosexual community, Frédéric Martel masters the codes, the references and relies on his "Gaydar" (portmanteau between "gay" and "radar") to identify "Homophilic", the "Insiders", the "Unstraights", the "Worldly", the "Versatile", the "Questionning" and the " in the closet ", in addition to "Practitioners". In order to bring out the overall logic, he starts from his encounters, atmospheres, styles and manners. There is a part of subjectivity in the book. Few prelates openly acknowledge their homosexuality.

Article reserved for our subscribers Read also "Sodoma" explores the place of homosexuality in the heart of the Vatican

The author gathers clues like pieces of a puzzle. Here he refers to the lover, an Anglican priest, of a cardinal whose name is mentioned later in the book – but without the mention of the lover. He reports many assistants very " relatives " of their bosses. It details the library of an eminence. He also handles the allusion, the implied, the double or triple meaning expressions, the rhetorical questions. He portrays such well-known figure of the conservative wing of the Vatican as a spectacular drag-queen. He often does not conclude, letting the reader draw the consequences of the sketched impressions.

But it also gives evidence that suggests the seriousness of the investigation. He makes it clear that he has evidence – personal testimony cross-referenced, official documents, numbers taken from the telephone directory of a prostitute … He specifies that the interviews were systematically recorded (with the agreement of the interested parties) and that the meetings were generally attended by one of his many collaborators.


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