The Vatican has been hit by a gay sex scandal after allegations that a chorister had procured male prostitutes for a papal gentleman-in-waiting.
The chorister, 29-year-old Thomas Chinedu Ehiem, was sacked after police heard him talking on a wiretap to Angelo Balducci, a Gentleman of His Holiness.
Papal gentlemen-in-waiting are called upon to act as ushers at the Vatican for major occasions.
Balducci, who was also a construction consultant to the Vatican, as well as being a senior government employee, is said to given Ehiem a description of the men he wanted and it has been reported that Ehiem may have procured a number of male prostitutes for him.
Balducci was being investigated by police over allegations of corruption when the claims of gay sex were revealed. He is alleged to have steered government contracts towards preferred bidders.
Excerpts of the wiretaps and police documents were published in the Italian newspaper La Repubblica.
They showed that the pair had been in regular contact before Balducci was arrested last month and that they had discussed gay sex.
According to the newspaper, police said they were part of an organised male prostitution network and one of the men referred to was a student for the priesthood.
Baldacci remains in custody after being arrested last month. His lawyer has refused to comment and the Vatican has not released any statement on the claims.
A news magazine called Panoramas is due to publish an interview with Ehiem tomorrow. According to the Guardian, Ehiem will say: “”He [Baldacci] asked me if I could procure other men for him. He told me he was married and that I had to do it in great secrecy.”
The Catholic Church sees homosexuality as a sin and “intrinsically disordered”, while the Pope has spoken out against it a number of times.
The scandal is the latest to rock the Vatican, after investigations found endemic abuse of children in church-run institutions.