The Vatican is facing public relations blowback after a residential building secured for migrants by a cardinal close to Pope Francis was used for a drug- and alcohol-fueled illegal gay rave on New Year’s Eve.
More than 5,000 young people, including a large number from the LGBTQ+ community, went ahead with the party on Dec. 31 — in defiance of the police chief’s notice delivered to the organizers, according to Leo Zagami, author of Pope Francis: The Last Pope? Money, Masons and Occultism in the Decline of the Catholic Church, in comments to Church Militant.
The gay revelers were attracted to the drag queen show, serving Roman culinary specialities that used a play on the word culi, which in Italian means “butt” or “culinary,” said Zagami, who lives near the building when he is in Rome.
“This was an event that created a security nightmare for the residents in the area and a vast number of accidents occurred, including several fights and a few hospitalizations from drug and alcohol abuse,” the author-turned-publisher revealed.
The event was advertised on Facebook as offering a “faggot, free and rebellious” New Year.
Locals said that emergency services were inundated with calls to 112 and 118 following brawls, protests, threats of denunciations for fraud and requests for help. Alcohol was sold without a license, even to minors.
“It has created a river of anger, as the police chief’s warning was ignored and one of the largest illegal meetings in the capital was created,” a local commented, while the organizers made more than €80,000, pocketing the money without issuing receipts and even turning away revelers who had paid for the show.
“The organizers ignored the police notice and went on with their wild party, knowing they were protected by none other than Pope Francis’ almoner, Cdl. Konrad Krajewski,” Zagami noted.
In May 2019, Krajewski restored electricity to the former headquarters of INPDAP (National Insurance Institute for Civil Servants) located at Via di Santa Croce, Gerusalemme 55 in the center of Rome, by descending nine feet down a manhole and breaking a police seal on the building’s electricity meter.
The seals were fixed by Rome’s Electricity and Water Municipal Utility (ACEA) after occupants failed to pay arrears of €300,000 over four years.
“If they arrive, I will pay the fines,” the cardinal told Italian media, defending his action as a “gesture of desperation.”
Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini slammed Krajewski for “supporting illegal conduct” and sending out a wrong signal. He asked if the papal almsgiver would pay the debt of €300,000 and remarked he “would be happy if the Vatican wants to pay the bills of all Italians in economic difficulties.”
The 450 residents illegally occupying the building are homeless migrants and Muslim refugees, allowed to squat in the premises by the leftwing group Action House, after activists took over the seven-story edifice on Oct. 12, 2013. There are 98 children on the premises.
The refugees are often involved in the sale of illegal drugs and regularly hold rave parties to sell them, Zagami revealed, adding on his blog: “In the meantime, every day, all over Rome, the Vatican evicts poor Christian families who can’t pay their bills from their own buildings, showing zero compassion.”
The occupiers have made more than €250,000 in one year. From January to May 2019, there were already 60 such events staged in the building.
In 2018, around 125 events took place there, many of them with an entrance fee. Minors were able to purchase alcohol and cigarettes at music events.
A “glory hole” show, advertised as offering a “transcendental orgasm,” was staged in the building in June 2018. A “glory hole” is a hole in a wall often between public restroom cubicles for people to engage in sexual activity.
Occupants have reportedly locked the electricity meter and secured it with a chain after Krajweski’s intervention to prevent ACEA from reading the meter and viewing the current power consumption.
Meanwhile, Areti, a company that deals with distribution on behalf of ACEA, has filed a complaint with the public prosecutor against unknown persons for theft of energy.
Calling for zero tolerance, Giorgia Meloni, president of Fratelli d’Italia (FDI), has confirmed that her political party will bring the case to Italy’s parliament:
I am scandalized. The occupants of the building in via di Santa Croce in Gerusalemme in Rome have thrown the police notice in the trash, and on New Year’s Eve they have also done illegal business. It is unfortunate that in the capital of Italy these offenders are allowed to trample the law and ignore the police. It is clear that these offenders have their shoulders well covered, as confirmed by the complicit silence of the mayor Raggi, the PD-M5S government and the intelligentsia. FDI will bring the case to parliament: That building must be cleared and the occupation officials must be prosecuted harshly.
The owner of the building has so far suffered a loss of €50 million as a result of the illegal occupation.
The New Year’s Eve rave was organized by Spin Time Labs, the association that carries out “cultural activities” in the occupied building.
Vatican Secretary of State Cdl. Pietro Parolin is also facing embarrassment for defending Krajewski’s controversial decision to restore electricity to the squatters.
“I personally think that the effort should be made to understand the sense of this gesture, which is to draw everyone’s attention to a real problem that involves people, children, the elderly,” Parolin said, defending the cardinal nicknamed “the Pope’s Robin Hood” by the leftwing newspaper La Repubblica.
It is likely that Krajewski may not have known about the gay rave, given the organizers’ attempt to advertise it to a select clientele and keep it below the radar. The pope’s almoner has been involved in a wide range of charitable activities and distributed over 3.5 million euros to people in material distress in 2018.
State social workers have urged the families who live in the complex to move into state-owned apartments. They have refused, preferring to stay in the building.
The occupiers raised health and safety concerns after installing a disco with a capacity for a thousand revelers without emergency exits or fire extinguishers, a commercial restaurant, a commercial school for beer brewers, a cinema and rooms for professional tango lessons.
These services are sold without receipts, and the occupants profiting from the activities pay no taxes. Police and social services are prevented from entering the building.
Church Militant contacted Krajewski for comment but received no immediate response.