Sure Rep. Eric Massa, the Democrat from New York, who is married and has two children is facing allegations of harassing a male staffer. But if you thought that constitutes a scandal, then you haven’t met Ghinedu Ehiem, a ceremonial usher for Pope Benedict XVI and member of St Peter’s Basilica’s choir, who was just exposed for his involvement in a gay prostitution ring.
Ehiem, a Nigerian, has been quickly dismissed by the Vatican after his name popped up in an investigation by Italian authorities into public works corruption; this whole prostituting business came out later. But he’s not the only Vatican-enmeshed alleged criminal here.
Among four people arrested last month in the corruption probe was Angelo Balducci, a engineer who is a board member of Italy’s public works department and a construction consultant to the Vatican. Balducci was arrested on corruption charges and the allegations of prostitution emerged only later. Balducci is also a member of an elite group called “Gentlemen of His Holiness,” ushers who are called to serve in the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace on major occasions such as when the pope receives heads of state or presides at big events. “Gentlemen of His Holiness” carried the coffin of the late Pope John Paul at his funeral in 2005.
Excerpts of the wiretaps and police documents published in the Italian newspaper La Repubblica showed that Ehiem, 40, had been in regular contact with Balducci before Balducci’s arrest last month and the subject of their conversation was gay sex. A police document prepared for magistrates and published in part by La Repubblica said Balducci was in contact with Ehiem and an Italian who were part of what the police called “an organized network … to abet male prostitution.”
Oh this is just delicious. And we thought sexually abusing children would be the Vatican’s ultimate reputation destroyer.