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Swiss Guard veteran claims existence of 'gay network' at the Vatican
A former commander of the Swiss Guard, the small force of men whose job it is to protect the pope, has said there is "a network of homosexuals" within the Vatican, the latest in a series of claims about gay priests working at the heart of the Roman Catholic church.
Elmar Mäder, who was commandant of the Guard from 2002 until 2008, said his time at the heart of the Vatican had given him an insight into certain aspects of life there. "I cannot refute the claim that there is a network of homosexuals. My experiences would indicate the existence of such a thing," he told the Swiss newspaper Schweiz am Sonntag.
Famed for their striking uniforms of blue, red and orange, recruits to the Guard swear to protect the pope and his successors with their lives.
Mäder, 50, from the canton of St Gallen, refused to comment on speculation that he had warned guardsmen about the behaviour of certain priests.
Earlier this month, the same newspaper reported the claims of a former, unnamed member of the Guard that he had been the target of more than 20 "unambiguous sexual requests" from clergy while serving in the force.
Recounting a dinner in a Rome restaurant, the man was quoted as saying: "As the spinach and steak were served, the priest said to me: 'And you are the dessert'."