News Analysis

Overlooked story of the week: Cardinals criticise ‘Vatican closet’ author

Not amused: Müller (left) and Kasper

What happened?

Two cardinals have cast doubt on a recent exposé. Cardinals Gerhard Müller and Walter Kasper criticised the methods of Frédéric Martel’s In The Closet of the Vatican, which described a world of sexual secrets and hypocrisy. Martel claimed to have interviewed 41 cardinals, including Cardinals Müller and Kasper.

Why was it under-reported?

The Martel book was published last month, and in the rapid news cycle it has already fallen out of the headlines. Nevertheless, it has been seen as showing that the Church’s teaching and law on sexuality are rooted in deceit. Its methods were criticised by several mainstream reviewers, but the two cardinals are the first interviewees to join the criticism. Both told LifeSite that Martel gained access to them under false pretences: Cardinal Müller alleges that Martel presented himself as a lapsed Catholic who wanted to learn more about the faith.

What will happen next?

Martel’s book has established itself in some quarters as a definitive narrative. The Sunday Times’s deputy editor Sarah Baxter repeated its claims and said the Church must revise its laws on celibacy. Referring to an article about the book, the popular psychologist Jordan Peterson tweeted: “Maybe believing Catholics should go on strike, stop attending church” – a suggestion that was widely mocked by Catholics.

Martel’s book makes so many claims about so many individuals that the debate is likely to rumble on for some time.