IT’S been a funny old week in the life of the Roman Catholic Church â€¦
First there’s the report that a bunch of Cistercian monks at a renowned monastery in Rome has been evicted by the Pope, who took a dim view of their “loose-living” antics, then we learn that a priest in Genoa has been arrested on charges of paedophilia and drug dealing.
The monastery Â- at the basilica of Santa Croce in Gerusalemme which hosts some of the church’s “holiest” relics – incurred Ratzinger’s displeasure because the monks turned itÂ into something of a pleasure dome, staging concerts featuring a lap-dancer-turned-nun. They also opened a hotel with a 24-hour limousine service.
Father Ciro Benedettini, a Vatican spokesman said:
An inquiry found evidence of liturgical and financial irregularities as well as lifestyles that were probably not in keeping with that of a monk. The church remains open but the monks are awaiting transfer.
Reports that the monks amassed large debts have also emerged, but Benedettini declined to give further details of the Vatican report, which was signed off in March.
The monks’ days have been numbered since 2009, when the Vatican sacked their flamboyant abbot, Father Simone Fioraso, a former fashion designer who built up a cult following among Rome’s fashionable aristocratic crowd as well as show business worshippers such as Madonna, who prayed at the church in 2008.
In 2009 Anna Nobili, a nightclub dancer who became a nun, was invited to perform her “holy dance” before an audience including archbishop Gianfranco Ravasi, head of the Vatican’s cultural department. For her performance Nobili, who says she uses dance as a form of prayer, lies spread-eagled in front of the altar clutching a crucifix or twists and turns as in pole-dancing routines.
Meanwhile, Father Riccardo Seppia, a 51-year-old parish priest in the village of Sastri Ponente, near Genoa, is languishing in custody after being arrested in connections with allegations that he asked a Moroccan drug dealer to arrange sexual encounters with young and vulnerable boys. He allegedly told the dealer:
I do not want 16-year-old boys but younger. Fourteen-year-olds are OK. Look for needy boys who have family issues.
According to investigators, Seppia told a friend – a former seminarian and barman who is currently under investigation – that the town’s malls were the best places to entice minors. In tapped phone conversations the two cursed and swore against God.
The priest is charged with having attempted to kiss and touch an underage altar boy and of having exchanged cocaine for sexual intercourse with boys over 18.
Hat tip: BarrieJohn and Marcus (monastery report) andÂ Pete H.