The truth about the Vatican sex-and-drugs scandal

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles - email) | Jul 07, 2017

If you’ve been following the news this week, you’ve probably seen sensational reports about a gay-sex-and-cocaine ring at the Vatican. The stories, alas, are true. But the details have been thoroughly garbled in virtually every media report.

What actually happened?

Last week a Vatican staffer was arrested by Vatican police who raided his apartment and discovered that a drug-fueled homosexual orgy was taking place.

The official who was arrested, Msgr. Luigi Capozzi, was not a top-ranking Vatican official, but he was the private secretary to Cardinal Francesco Coccopalmerio, the president of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts: the Vatican body charged with the intepretation of canon law. Msgr. Capozzi has now disappeared from the Vatican scene; he was reportedly taken to a hospital for drug treatment, then to a monastery outside Rome for a spiritual retreat.

Contrary to multiple media reports, Msgr. Capozzi was not an official of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF). The confusion arose because his apartment was located in a building that shares a courtyard with the CDF. The apartment building, technically owned by the CDF, is used as a residence for top officials of the Roman Curia. It is not clear how Msgr. Capozzi had managed to land an apartment there; ordinarily his rank would not have qualified him for such a prestigious Vatican address. Apparently he had influential friends. There are reports that he was in line for appointment as a bishop.

Msgr. Capozzi had access to a car with Vatican license plates: again a sign that he had influential friends. Those license plates made him virtually exempt from searches by the Italian police, and could have facilitated the transportation of illegal drugs. The location of his residence—in a building with one door leading onto Vatican territory, the other onto the streets of Rome—was also ideal for someone avoiding police oversight.

However, Msgr. Capozzi evidently pushed too far. Other residents of the building (presumably including some of those top Vatican officials) complained about a steady train of young male visitors and of noisy parties at Msgr. Capozzi’s apartment. Those complaints prompted the police raid.

The unvarnished facts of the case are ugly enough; they need no sensational embellishment. There are clear indications that Msgr. Capozzi had powerful patrons and protectors: daunting new evidence that a “gay lobby” retains considerable influence at the Vatican.

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at See full bio.

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  • Posted by: grateful1 - Jul. 11, 2017 11:24 PM ET USA

    Appalling and outrageous. Perhaps it's too much to expect that Pope Francis will start spending less time revamping Catholic doctrine and more time ensuring that his minions follow it. After all, who is he to judge?

  • Posted by: Foundas - Jul. 09, 2017 4:21 PM ET USA

    Isn't this the same group that was called, "The Lavender Mafia"?

  • Posted by: iprayiam5731 - Jul. 08, 2017 11:16 PM ET USA

    How hard would it really be to clean this up? What if the Pope put out an announcement to all priests: if you can't live chastely you have 1 month to come forward and be laicized. Anyone found breaking chastity after that will be punished without leniency.

  • Posted by: fenton1015153 - Jul. 08, 2017 9:38 AM ET USA

    Such a scandal! Thanks for the truth as far as you know it. I am afraid that Msgr. Capozzi will be the only one "caught". In the secular world it is always a low level "criminal" that gets caught. We should expect a higher example from the Vatican. Pray for the Church. The BVM, the mother of the Church, is in Heaven so the gates of Hell will never touch Her. But our mother the Church is in man's world and Satan loves to destroy.

  • Posted by: Jim Hanink - Jul. 07, 2017 10:49 PM ET USA

    Thanks for the clarifications. Much appreciated.

  • Posted by: kylertaggart1575 - Jul. 07, 2017 10:44 PM ET USA

    More than ever we must keep the words of Our Lord in mind, "and the gates of hell will not prevail against [My Church]". However hard it seems these days to believe, we know His words will stand true.

  • Posted by: filioque - Jul. 07, 2017 6:41 PM ET USA

    Will we ever have a pope who will clean these stables?