Cops bust drug-fueled gay orgy in Vatican City
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Cops bust drug-fueled gay orgy in Vatican City

Police respond to complaint of unusual activity at apartment owned by Catholic Church's office for investigating sexual abuse

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Pope Francis stands on the popemobile as he arrives for a weekly general audience at St Peter's square on June 28, 2017 in Vatican.  (AFP/Vincenzo PINTO)
Pope Francis stands on the popemobile as he arrives for a weekly general audience at St Peter's square on June 28, 2017 in Vatican. (AFP/Vincenzo PINTO)

Vatican police, alerted to strange goings-on at an apartment in the city-state, stumbled upon a drug-fueled gay sex party in full swing and arrested one of the occupants, said to be an aide to a top adviser of Pope Francis.

The bust, which happened in late June, was first reported by the Italian daily newspaper Il Fatto Quotidiano.

According to media, the apartment was owned by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the office that processes and evaluates all cases of priests accused of raping or molesting minors. Days later Pope Francis removed the prefect who headed the congregation, although it was not known if it was due to the orgy.

Vatican City cops were called in after neighbors complained of “constant coming and going” from the apartment and other unusual behavior.

The arrested man, not named in media, was a secretary of Cardinal Francesco Coccopalmerio who is president of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, which interprets laws for the Church.

Coccopalmerio had reportedly in the past recommended the aide for promotion to bishop.

Il Fatto Quotidiano said the pope was furious about the incident. The aide was taken for detox at a clinic and hospital and was said to be “currently in retreat” somewhere in Italy.

According to The Australian, the aide has previously spent time recovering from two incidents of drug overdose, once at a Rome hospital and another time in an Italian monastery. It was unclear what charges he may face as gay sex is not illegal in Vatican City.

Earlier this month Francis declined to renew the mandate of German Cardinal Gerhard Mueller as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which handles sex abuse claims.

Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Mueller arrives for a morning session of a two-week synod on family issues at the Vatican, October 14, 2014 file photo. (AP/Gregorio Borgia)
Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Mueller arrives for a morning session of a two-week synod on family issues at the Vatican, October 14, 2014 file photo. (AP/Gregorio Borgia)

The measure came just days after France released another top Vatican cardinal to return home to stand trial for alleged sexual assault.

The developments underscore how the Catholic Church’s sex abuse crisis has caught up with Francis, threatening to tarnish his legacy over a series of questionable appointments and decisions in his four-year papacy.

Francis named Mueller’s deputy, Monsignor Luis Ladaria Ferrer, a Spanish Jesuit, to run the powerful office instead.

During Mueller’s five-year term, the congregation amassed a 2,000-case backlog and came under blistering criticism from abuse survivors.

Last Thursday, Francis granted another Vatican hardliner, Cardinal George Pell, a leave of absence to return to his native Australia to face trial on multiple charges of sexual assault stemming from years ago.

Pell has denied the charges. Still, Francis has come under criticism for having named him to the powerful position of the Vatican’s money czar in 2014 in the first place, given that accusations of wrongdoing had dogged him even then. Pell has been widely denounced at home for mishandling abuse cases while he was a bishop and of having treated victims harshly in seeking to protect the church from abuse-related civil litigation.

Australian Cardinal George Pell looks on as he makes a statement at the Holy See Press Office, Vatican city on June 29, 2017 after being charged with historical sex offences in a case that has rocked the church. (Alberto Pizzoli/AFP)
Australian Cardinal George Pell looks on as he makes a statement at the Holy See Press Office, Vatican city on June 29, 2017 after being charged with historical sex offences in a case that has rocked the church. (Alberto Pizzoli/AFP)

AP contributed to this report.

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