Mgr Stenico admits inviting a man whom he met on a gay website to his office, across the piazza from Saint Peter’s Basilica, after expressing an attraction to sado-masochism. What he did not know was that the young man was working for a TV investigation on homosexuality among Catholic priests and went to the tryst with a concealed video camera. The footage was shown this month by La 7, the national TV channel.
It shows the young man entering the lift to Mgr Stenico’s office and then speaking with the priest in his office. The faces and voices are heavily disguised to respect privacy laws but with the help of subtitles the topics being discussed are obvious.
Mgr Stenico asks the man, “Do you like me?” and tells him that he is very good-looking. When the young man expresses fears that having sex would be “a sin in the eyes of the Church”, the priest replies: “I do not feel it would be sinful.” Drawn on the subject of sado-masochistic sex, the monsignor says that these are “inner choices, the psychological basis of a personality”. The young man continues to raise moral and religious objections to actually having sex, until the priest becomes irritated, says that he has no time left and takes him back to the lift. On parting, the Monsignor tells him that he is “really tasty” and that he can telephone him or send him a message.
One of the most amusing aspects of the whole story (and there are so many: I must find out what 'really tasty' - a detail omitted from Italian reports - is the translation of,) is Stenico's claim that gay men prey on priests. This is rather like saying that hedgehogs seek out busy roads, or rats, traps.
Oddly enough, Stenico's website, in which he discusses, among other things, the vocation of marriage, is currently unavailable. I suspect the Vatican is more efficient than the GOP at making sure this kind of story will not run and run.