(Photo: Reuters/Alessandro Bianchi)
Media reports are circling around comments Pope Francis reportedy made during a private meeting concerning a "gay lobby" that exists inside the Vatican, though the Roman Catholic Church has refused to provide further clarification so far.
"In the Curia, there are holy people. But there is also a stream of corruption," the Vatican leader reportedly said during a meeting with representatives of CLAR, the Latin American and Caribbean Confederation of Religious Men and Women, over the weekend.
"The 'gay lobby' is mentioned, and it is true, it is there. We need to see what we can do," he added. The comments were first posted by Chilean website Reflection and Liberation.
The Associated Press reported, however, that CLAR have apologized to the pope that those comments have been leaked to the public, as it was supposed to be a private meeting.
"It's clear that based on this one cannot attribute with certainty to the Holy Father singular expressions in the text, but just the general sense," CLAR explained, revealing that no recording has been made of the comments Pope Francis is reported to have said.
Furthermore, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, the director of the Holy See Press Office, declined to comment on what was said, also noting that the meeting was private.
In a statement responding to Pope Francis' comments, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) argued that sexual orientation is not the real problem inside the Vatican, but the actions of sexually active clerics who abuse others.
"The Vatican, like the rest of the Catholic hierarchy, will remain headed by men who feel and act like they answer to virtually no one, because that's largely the case. They will continue to have, and often abuse, their vast, nearly unchecked power," the group says.
Initial reports in Italian media concerning Pope Benedict XVI's surprise resignation in February suggested that a "gay lobby" inside the Vatican was blackmailing the pontiff and was behind the decision, though the Catholic Church has denied those suggestions and insisted that Benedict resigned due to the reasons he stated, namely his failing health and advanced age.