Holy See Suspends Embroiled Monsignor

Cardinal Calls for Serenity Amid Investigation

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ROME, OCT. 15, 2007 (Zenit.org).- The Holy See suspended a priest who declared himself a homosexual on an Italian television program.



Monsignor Tommaso Stenico, who worked at the Congregation for Clergy, is being investigated by the Disciplinary Commission of the Roman Curia.

The 60-year-old priest claims he is the victim of a trap set by the television station.

Cardinal Julián Herranz Casado, president of the Disciplinary Commission, confirmed the suspension today in the Italian daily La Repubblica.

The cardinal affirmed that the Holy See "has promptly intervened already, with suspension," but noted that a final decision will only come with a decision from the commission.

Cardinal Herranz asked that investigators be allowed to work "with serenity […] away from the clamoring of the media" as they try to clarify the situation, "since the process should not be done in the newspapers, but rather by the institutional structures."

"The Holy See is the first one to be interested in cleansing itself from within, but always respecting human rights and after judicial authority pronounces itself," he continued.

The cardinal affirmed that with these kinds of cases, there is certainly "sadness, but one must be aware that these are exceptional cases, I would even dare to say, unique."

During the Italian program "Exit," broadcast Oct. 1, the priest, who remained anonymous on-screen, declared that he was homosexual and that "he didn't feel he was in sin."

The priest said he was not aware that the interview was being recorded. Despite the fact that in the television images, the priest's face and voice are unrecognizable, his office was identified by a reporter and on Oct. 9, Monsignor Stenico was accused.

The monsignor, a doctor of theology with a licentiate in psychology, has worked as a psychotherapist for 30 years. He said he claimed to be homosexual because he was seeking information "to write a book about the problem of homosexuality among priests."

Monsignor Stenico added: "Definitely, it was nothing more than an experiment, a study about the theme, and I have fallen in the trap, but I will explain it to my superiors."

Vatican spokesman Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi said on Saturday that officials "are following this situation with strict discretion and with respect for the person concerned, even if this person committed these errors."

He clarified, "The authorities, however, must intervene with the appropriate severity for such behavior, which is incompatible with the ministry of a priest and the mission of the Holy See."