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Published in: July-August 2019 issue.


In the Closet of the Vatican: Power, Homosexuality, Hypocrisy
by Frédéric Martel
Translated by Shaun Whiteside
Bloomsbury. 555 pages, $30.


THIS BIG BOOK—550 large text-packed pages—is more than just the print presentation of one journalist’s research. Frédéric Martel’s In the Closet of the Vatican is a product of hundreds of interviews and investigative research carried out by the author and his eighty-member staff over several years in thirty countries around the globe. Despite the misleading English title—the French original is the less specific Sodoma—this is not just an exposé of homosexuality in the Vatican, where it is evidently widespread.

         Instead, the book is an examination of how, since the 1970s, the issue of homosexuality has come to preoccupy the largely gay if often closeted upper hierarchy of the Catholic church throughout the West, and how these church leaders have, to avoid scandal, created policies that support not just homophobia and hypocrisy but also corruption, leaving clerical abuse of minors, even when egregious, almost untouched.

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Richard M. Berrong is the author of the recently published biography Pierre Loti(Critical Lives).