The Odyssey of a Latin expert, from the Vatican to the gay rights movement


He announced that he would leave the priesthood altogether, then spent four years, as he said, in the wilderness. He had a “double coming out” with his parents about leaving the priesthood and being gay, and they didn’t speak to him for years. He met priests he knew at cruise locations and at various public baths, including one in a building belonging to the Vatican. He said he went to drug-fueled parties at Montecassino Abbey, whose roots go back to Saint Benedict. He was making some money with private lessons in Latin and religion and some early reporting work, but he felt lost.

In 2013, a cardinal delivered a letter from Mr. Lepore explaining his situation to the newly elected Pope Francis. In October, Mr. Lepore’s phone rang, Francis telling him that he admired him for his “steadfastness” and “courage” in not living a double life, and that he wanted to help him in his difficulties. economic, according to Lepore.

(A Vatican spokesperson did not respond to a call for comment.)

But apart from an envelope of 2,000 euros, about $ 2,400, from another Cardinal (“a kindness”), no work ever materialized. Francis signed his dispensation papers in August 2014, removing him from the clerical state.

Released from the church, Mr. Lepore embarked on activism for gay rights. In February 2019, he became the star witness to Frédéric Martel’s fashionable book “In the Vatican Closet”, where Mr. Lepore’s estimate that 80% of Vatican staff are gay caused a stir.

Later that year, Ivan Scalfarotto, a politician who is now under-secretary in the Italian Interior Ministry, spoke to Linkiesta’s new editor-in-chief about a guy who knew all about the Vatican. The editor, Christian Rocca, was intrigued. Mr. Lepore sent him an article about the Vatican’s grim view of the sudden pious turn of nationalist leader Matteo Salvini. Mr Rocca sent it to a Vatican official he knew who assured him it was there.

“I discovered this gem,” Mr. Rocca said.

Last year, Mr Rocca pitched the idea of ​​a daily Latin column, which he admitted wasn’t great for search engine optimization, but sounded like fun.

“It sounds like madness,” replied Mr. Lepore.

And then he got down to it right away.

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