you must remember this: a list is just a list

By Diogenes (articles) | Oct 23, 2007

The newly-famous Msgr. Tommaso Stenico claims to have "a detailed dossier" of all the homosexual clerics in the Vatican "with a list of names and circumstances implicating a certain number of priests and even bishops working at the Curia" -- a report (we're told) that will make the Vatican "tremble."

Color me skeptical. Stenico owes his celebrity to the fact that he appeared on Italian television making sexual advances to a young man he had contacted via an Internet S&M chat-room. The encounter was filmed surreptitiously -- in Stenico's Vatican office, no less -- and broadcast as part of a program about misbehaving gay clergy. Stenico was subsequently relieved of duties, pending investigation.

It doesn't look good for the Monsignor. Stenico's explanation of his innocence is that he was himself engaged in an investigation of clerical homosexuality, and that his immersion in the world of Internet sex was simply part of the fact-finding prior to the exposé. Not your best effort, Don Tommaso.

I have to say I wish his explanation were true. Everyone loves an indefatigably self-defeating bungler, and Stenico would be a more endearing character if we could picture him as a kind of ecclesiastical Inspector Clouseau: tomorrow costumed as a sheep, perhaps, and shambling on all fours across St. Peter's Square, bleating as an enticement to unwary probatophiles ("Well you see, Officer, I happened to be conducting a one-man undercover sting operation against unnatural vice, and ...").

Odds are, though, that Stenico is just your basic bent priest: in the blunt shorthand of the New York Post, a "Perv." And what of his explosive dossier? Hard to take it seriously. A list is just a list. Unless he has videotape and arrest records to back up his claims, they'll be laughed into oblivion -- even if his identifications happen to be true. Remember the threat made by Boston's arch-misfit Paul Shanley -- that he'd name the mystery Cardinal who (Shanley claimed) led him down the path to pederasty? Almost certainly a bluff, used with the hope of frightening the Archdiocese into intervening on his behalf.

Shanley's now in prison and we haven't heard a thing. My guess is that Stenico is pulling the same stunt and hoping to stampede the horses, but in the end will join his fellow research scholar Monsignor CB in doing proofreading for UNICEF.

Refocusing on the Ligurian coast, from the UK's Daily Telegraph comes an article about Genoa's Archbishop Angelo Bagnasco with the curious headline, "Anti-Gay Archbishop Among 23 New Cardinals." Based on what is said about Bagnasco to justify the tag, it seems that by "anti-gay" the Telegraph means "Catholic" -- i.e., someone who accepts Church teaching where it's convenient and fashionable to do the contrary. True, of course, but hard to understand why it's newsworthy.

Maybe Don Tommaso could explain it to us.

Richard Cross holds a doctorate in psychology, who has taught at the university level, including at Franciscan University. He is currently an educational researcher and consultant in the field of psychology and related disciplines.
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