One of the many paradoxes in the story of the church’s response to same-sex relationships, is that during the rise of direct, active persecution of “sodomites”, in Europe and in the newly establised colonies, the church included in its highest echelons popes, cardinals and senior bishops who are known to have had male lovers, as well as others who may have done, and also some who did not, but tolerated or protected others who did. These are not in any sense to be regarded as “saints”, but they do present evidence that same-sex adventures or interests, were not always a barrier advancement to high church office.
The papacy generally revealed in practice a relatively tolerant attitude to sexual “deviation.” Within the Papal States, penalties against sodomy were enforced less rigorously than in many other territories. By the fifteenth century, Rome had developed a vibrant subculture of men who enjoyed sexual relationships with other men. (The situation of women in Rome is less well documented.)Thus, throughout the early modern era, men found refuge in Rome from the harsh punishment of sodomy, which was more “routine” in northern Europe and which was also vigorously prosecuted in Spain and Portugal during the Inquisition of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Although popes at least acquiesced in the prosecutions under the Inquisition, the persecution of sodomites probably resulted from local animus and zeal rather than from directives from Rome. Protestant reformers consistently condemned papal toleration of homosexual acts.
- Boswell, John: Christianity, Social Tolerance and Homosexuality: Gay People in Western Europe from the Beginning of the Christian Era to the 14th Century
- Duffy, Eamonn: Saints and Sinners: A History of the Popes
- Fletcher, Lynne Y: The First Gay Pope and Other Records
- Quattrocchi, Angelo: The Pope is Not Gay!
- Gay Popes: John XII (955 – 964)
- Gay Popes: Benedict IX (1012 – 1056)
- Gay Popes: Paul II (1464 – 1471) and His Embarrassing Death
- Gay Popes: Sixtus IV (1471 – 1484)
- Gay Popes: Julius II (1503 – 1513)
- Gay Popes: Leo X (1513 – 1521)
- Gay Popes: Julius III (1550 – 1555)
- Cardinal Francesco Maria de’ Medici, Gay Cardinal?
- Cardinal Borghese (1576 – 1633), Patron ofHomoerotc Art
- Cardinal Carlo Carafa, gay cardinal.
- Gay Cardinals: Francesco Maria Del Monte (1549 – 1627)
- Gay Cardinals: Francis Joseph Spellman
- St. Paulinus of Nola, bishop and homoerotic poet
- St Venantius Fortunatus, Bishop and Homoerotic Poet
- Gay Bishops: Ralph of Tours (Promiscuos, Gay) and John of Orleans
- Anselm of Canterbury: Gay Bishop, Gay Protector. 21/04