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Pope Francis' Pick to Head Vatican Bank Mired In Gay Rumors

By Sunnivie Brydum

Pope Francis appointed an Italian cleric and former Vatican diplomat to serve as his representative to the Institute for the Works of Religion last week — also known as the Vatican's "bank," reports The Guardian. But the pope's selection has drawn criticism from an Italian paper that contends the future prelate to the IOR is a somewhat openly gay man who lived with Swiss Army officer at the Vatican's embassy in Uruguay.

Weekly paper L'Espresso claims that Monsignor Battista Ricca not only lived openly with the male officer at the Holy See's nunciature in the South American nation, but also provided his lover with housing and a job, according to The Guardian. The report also claims Ricca was once assaulted inside a gay bar in Montevideo, and that when the nunciature's elevator broke down one night, firefighters called to the scene found Ricca inside with a known male prostitute. The paper also alleges that when Ricca was transferred to Trinidad and Tobago, his partner left behind suitcases full of condoms, pornography, and a gun. 

The Catholic Church believes homosexuality is a sin, and calls on gay and lesbian Catholics to remain chaste throughout their lives. Priests and ordained clergy also take a vow of celibacy. 

Ricca has not commented on the allegations, reports the Guardian, but a Vatican spokesman called the report "not trustworthy." Vatican officials similarly disavowed widespread reports of a "gay lobby" at work inside Rome earlier this year. But in June, Pope Francis acknowledged the existence of a blackmail scheme targeting gay priests inside the Vatican while speaking at a private conference of Latin American church leaders. 

Pope Francis, the Catholic Church's first leader from a Latin American nation, will touch down in Brazil today, where CNN reports he'll be greeted by jubilant crowds — and protestors. A gay-rights group has scheduled a kiss-in protest along the parade route where the pope will pass in his open-topped popemobile.

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