The Vatican is reeling thanks to a series of claims against it involving Italian priests behaving badly.
Scandals relating to orgies, prostitution and porn videos have sent shockwaves around the Catholic Church, which is still recovering from hugely damaging international claims over child sex abuse dating back years.
Most recently Reverend Mario D’Orlando, a priest in Naples, in the south of Italy, was suspended and is facing a formal investigation by senior clerics over allegations that he went online seeking partners to pay for sex.
Fr D’Orlando, from the parish of Santa Maria degli Angeli, is also accused of holding gay orgies. He has denied the claims, according to the site Religion News Service.
Meanwhile in the northern city of Padua, another parish priest could be cast out altogether after it came to light that he had a string of secret female lovers – some of whom he took to a swingers’ resort in France.
Fr Andrea Contin is under police investigation for allegedly organizing and filming sex parties in the rectory of his church and acting as a pimp to some of his 15 lovers. One of three women to come forward with complaints said she had been Contin’s lover for over three years. She said he carried bondage equipment and invited other priests to sex parties.
The cases are deeply embarrassing to the Vatican, which under Pope Francis has sought to draw a line under previous scandals by demanding higher standards from the clergy.
The pontiff has tried to clamp down on priests’ unethical habits ever since being made Pope in 2013 and has often spoken out against the pitfalls of ‘temptation’.