As the papal elections finally gets underway in Rome, some members of the Vatican will surely be blushing a deeper red than their robes at the news that the Holy See purchased a block of Rome apartments that is also home to Italy’s biggest gay sauna.
In an article published on Monday, Italian newspaper La Repubblica noted that the Vatican paid an estimated $30 million in 2008 for around 20 apartments in the imposing palazzo at 2 Via Carducci — a building that also happens to house the gay sauna Europa Multiclub.
According to La Repubblica, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone—a trusted aide to Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, who handled the Vatican’s spending during his pontificate— oversaw the purchase of the apartments.
The Church reportedly avoided having to pay millions in taxes on the apartment purchase thanks to generous breaks from the former Berlusconi government.
The housing block accommodates 15 priests, including a 12-room apartment on the first floor of the building for 76-year-old Cardinal Ivan Dias, the head of the Church’s Congregation for Evangelization of Peoples and one of the cardinals taking part in the conclave today.
Dias, a socially conservative Cardinal who was the former archbishop of Bombay, has called homosexuality a disease of the soul. La Repubblica claims that the Cardinal has complained of the smells that have drifted up from the social club to his terrace.
Europa Multiclub, which features a Turkish bath and Finnish sauna, bills itself as the number one sauna in Italy. Open all year, the club also offers weekly “bear parties”, which it advertises on its website with a video of a stripper donning clerical attire.
The Vatican has thus far declined to comment.