Pope's man at Vatican bank had 'string of gay affairs'
The Holy See is involved in a fresh scandal after it was claimed that a priest appointed to a key role in the Vatican bank had a string of homosexual affairs that forced his recall from an overseas posting.
Pope Francis recently appointed Monsignor Battista Ricca as his "eyes and ears" within the bank after introducing reforms aimed at curtailing alleged money laundering, tax evasion and other financial abuses.
However, yesterday it was claimed that Msgr Ricca (57) who had a 15-year career as a Vatican diplomat, allegedly shocked fellow priests and nuns at the Holy See's embassy in Montevideo, Uruguay, by having a homosexual affair with a captain in the Swiss army.
The monsignor allegedly met the officer, named as Captain Patrick Haari, during an earlier posting to Berne in Switzerland, and the soldier accompanied him to Uruguay.
The "intolerable menage" prompted the Vatican's nuncio, or ambassador, to appeal to Rome to have the monsignor removed. The priest was later transferred to Trinidad and Tobago and eventually recalled to Rome.
The expose of the alleged indiscretions, which were said to have taken place in 1999 and 2000, was published by 'L'Espresso', a weekly news magazine, which said the allegations had been confirmed by "numerous bishops, priests, religious and laity" in Uruguay.
It was not just the alleged relationship that landed Msgr Ricca in trouble. On one occasion in 2001 he got stuck in a lift. When firemen rescued him, questions were allegedly raised about why a young man was trapped with him.
On another occasion the priest was reportedly attacked in a gay bar and had to call for help, arriving back at the nunciature, the Vatican embassy, with a bruised face.
The alleged scandal is particularly embarrassing because Msgr Ricca is a trusted confidant of the Pope.
As well as having a supervisory role within the Vatican bank, which is officially known as the Institute for the Works of Religion, he is also the director of the Vatican residence where the Pope has chosen to live, having shunned the sumptuous apostolic apartments.
Fr Federico Lombardi, a Vatican spokesman, said the reports about the monsignor were "not tenable". But they come a month after Pope Francis admitted that there was "a gay lobby" inside the Vatican and a "current of corruption" within the Roman Curia, the secretive governing body of the Holy See. The Vatican bank did not wish to comment.
Pope Francis reportedly had no knowledge of the alleged scandal because it had been covered up by Vatican insiders. (© Daily Telegraph, London)