Two Vatican staffers have been removed after revelations that they were involved in a homosexual prostitution ring.
Angelo Balducci, a Papal Gentiluomini (“Gentleman” usher who helps greet dignitaries), and Thomas Chinedu Ehiem, a 29 year-old Nigerian and professional chorister with the Giulia Choir, which performs at St Peter’s Basilica, were working together to provide Mr. Balducci with homosexual prostitutes.
The discovery was made by Italian police wiretaps during an investigation into Balducci’s involvement in political corruption over public works contracts and published in the Italian newspaper La Repubblica on Thursday. The BBC news magazine Panorama quoted Ehiem saying, “He [Balducci] 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.”
“He asked and I executed. He would give me 50 or 100 Euros ($70 or $140 Cdn), never more than 1,000 or 1,500 Euros ($1,400 or $2,100 Cdn) a year,” said Ehiem.
The Guardian newspaper acquired transcripts of conversations between Ehiem and Balducci that reveal at least one of the men procured was a seminarian, in addition to a former male model and a rugby player. The transcripts reveal that over a period of five or six months in 2008, Ehiem procured for Balducci at least 10 contacts with men, garnered from the “Pianeta Escort” (Planet Escort) website.
The role of the Papal Gentiluomini is largely ceremonial and Balducci’s main occupation is as an engineer and board member of Italy’s public works department.
Italian police, investigating on behalf of prosecutors in Florence, have stated, “In order to organise casual encounters of a sexual nature, he availed himself of the intercession of two individuals who, it is maintained, may form part of an organised network, especially active in [Rome], of exploiters or at least facilitators of male prostitution.”
Ehiem has been fired from the Giulia choir and Balducci, who also serves as a senior adviser to the Vatican’s Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples, is under arrest.
American priest and frequent media commentator, Father Thomas Williams told CBS News, “We’re just scratching the surface here. There’s definitely more to come.”
“We only know of these two men connected with the Vatican in some way, but obviously, they’re talking about a ring, and a ring means definitely more people involved.”
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