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What did Pope Benedict know and when did he know it?
One of Pope Benedict's ceremonial ushers and a member of an elite choir in St Peter's Basilica have been implicated in a gay prostitution ring, in the latest sexual scandal to taint the Vatican.
Ghinedu Ehiem, a Nigerian, was dismissed by the Vatican on Wednesday from the Giulia Choir after his name appeared in transcripts of police wiretaps, published by an Italian newspaper, in an unrelated Italian investigation.
Balducci is also a member of an elite group called "Gentlemen of His Holiness," ushers who are called to serve in the Vatican's Apostolic Palace on major occasions such as when the pope receives heads of state or presides at big events.
"Gentlemen of His Holiness" carried the coffin of the late Pope John Paul at his funeral in 2005.
Excerpts of the wiretaps and police documents published in the Italian newspaper La Repubblica showed that Ehiem, 40, had been in regular contact with Balducci before Balducci's arrest last month and the subject of their conversation was gay sex.
A police document prepared for magistrates and published in part by La Repubblica said Balducci was in contact with Ehiem and an Italian who were part of what the police called "an organized network ... to abet male prostitution."
Wiretap transcripts published by La Repubblica showed that among the men Ehiem allegedly procured for Balducci were seminarians. In one, Balducci is quoted as asking Ehiem: "At what time does he have to return to the seminary?"
The BBC reports....
The case has made front-page news in the Italian media.
The transcripts suggest that Mr Ehiem procured at least 10 contacts for Mr Balducci, including a male model and a rugby player.
The question now is: who inside the Vatican knew about this and who inside the Vatican was participating in this "organized network" of "male prostitution?"
The BBC says Pope Benedict XVI...."was aware of the matter." That doesn't tell us much. Some are asking the question, 'What did the Pope know, and when did he know it?' Indeed.
To add a bit of perspective to this ugly story from inside the Vatican, I think it's important to consider the American Catholic Church's response recently after Washington D.C began issuing marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples....
Archbishop Donald Wuerl of Washington, facing a new District of Columbia law mandating health coverage for partners of gay employees in agencies that take taxpayer dollars, has decided to drop coverage for all spouses of Catholic Charities employees rather than be forced to insure same-sex couples.
Catholic Charities, not acting very charitably, but instead, vindictively, ended all spousal health coverage, rather than cover gay spouses. Some charitable organization, huh?
Cutting all Catholic Charity employees' spouses, gay or straight, from the roles of health coverage isn't the only vindictive action the Catholic Church has taken recently in their crusade of hate against the gay.....
The announcement follows last month's decision by Catholic Charities to end its longstanding foster care and adoption program because the new statute would have compelled the agency to place children with qualified gay applicants.
These two examples of Catholic Church bigotry towards 'the gay' is made all the more toxic in light of the uncovering of the Vatican's own gay prostitution ring.
Don't forget....Religion poisons everything. In this case, Catholic religious teachings have led directly to open discrimination and actions of bitterness and hate towards our "fellow man"....and, at the same time that close associate "gentlemen" to the Pope inside the Vatican were operating an organized male prostitution service.
This story's poison is especially potent.
This Guardian article is also worth reading on this topic.
Also relevant here is my February blog reviewing Benedict's version of condom reliability as it relates to the spreading of HIV-AIDS.