- Starving and desperate victims from eastern Europe were picked up outside gay bar called Twink
- Former Carabinieri officers pimped boys for nine clergymen, says Don Patrizio Poggi
- Vatican dismiss allegations and accuse priest of seeking revenge
Accuser: Convicted paedophile priest Don Patrizio Poggi who claims there was a rent boy ring at the Vatican
A convicted paedophile priest has claimed a rent boy ring operated at the Vatican with clergymen hiring teenagers for sex inside churches.
Don Patrizio Poggi, 46, who served a five-year sentence for abusing five boys aged 14 to 15, at his parish outside Rome, has given police a list of nine names.
Four people have been placed under investigation – including a monsignor who is currently the secretary of an important bishop, it has been alleged.
Also being investigated is a former Carabinieri policeman suspected of recruiting under-age boys for the alleged prostitution ring.
The ex-officer apparently snared the teenagers, mostly eastern European immigrants, outside a gay bar named Twink near Rome’s Termini train station.
A senior Vatican official has dismissed the allegations, accusing Poggi of seeking revenge because the church refused to reinstate him.
Poggi, the former priest at the San Filippo Neri church in Rome, said he made the allegations to ‘protect the Holy Church and the Christian community.’
The boys were chosen because they were starving and desperate, he claimed, according to Il Messaggero newspaper.
The former policeman allegedly selected the victims as he sat in his Fiat Panda – marked ‘Emergency Blood’ to avoid parking fines.
He was helped by a friend who ran a modelling agency, luring underage boys through ‘false work offers for modelling and acting roles’, Poggi said.
The agent also looked for victims at gay discos, saunas and gyms across Rome. An accountant was also said to be involved.
The boys were paid €150-€500 (£130-£425) to perform sex acts in church premises across the capital.
Poggi also accused the former Carabinieri of selling consecrated hosts for satanic rites.
When he met the authorities, Poggi reportedly presented documentary and photographic evidence in the company of two senior Vatican clergymen who vouched for his credibility.
One of the clergymen was Monsignor Luca Lorusso, an adviser to the Papal Nuncio to Italy, who is himself a confidante of Pope Francis.
Poggi’s list of names included two senior church officials and a religion lecturer.
Cardinal Agostino Vallini, head of the Catholic Vicariate of Rome, accused Poggi of making false claims out of a desire for vengeance and personal resentment.
Vallini said: ‘The cardinal expresses his full confidence in the magistracy and declares himself full convinced that this slander will be demolished, demonstrating Poggi’s claims to be untrue
‘God will hold everyone accountable for their deeds.’
The controversy comes just weeks after Pope Francis confirmed the existence of a ‘gay lobby’ in the Vatican to a visiting Latin American church group.
The apparent network inside the supposedly celibate and staunchly anti-homosexual Church is one reason why Pope Francis is working on a thorough house-cleaning of the Roman curia.