The Circus at the Vatican: Reflections on how it came to be

entertainment | Jan 08, 2011 | By Randy Engel

“Topless Acrobats Perform for Pope”, “Bare-chested Acrobats Perform for Pope”, “Pope Captivated by Shirtless Male Acrobats”, “Surprise Strippers in Vatican!”

These headlines which flooded the Internet and international media following the Papal General Audience of December 15, 2010, held at Paul VI Hall in Vatican City were enough to unsettle even the most intrepid post-Conciliar Catholic.

The scandal in question involved the Pellegrini Brothers, heirs to the well-known Italian circus dynasty, who were invited to entertain the pope and his entourage and the more than 6,000 visitors assembled for the weekly audience during the Advent season in Rome. It was, however, not their short hand-balancing act, but rather their grand entrance and provocative salutation to the Holy Father that sparked controversy.

On cue, the four young men mounted the platform area, faced the pope seated across from his secretary and cardinals on stage, and then in a manner reminiscent of the Vegas Chippendale male strippers, peeled off their jackets revealing their bare muscular upper torso. The Fratelli Pellegrini were accompanied on stage by a statuesque, well-endowed brunette with stiletto boots who had been poured into a black skin-tight leather outfit and whose task it was to gather up the performers’ jackets, stroll across the stage and await the end of the exhibition. The only fashion accessory she lacked to complete the sadomasochist scenario was a whip.

The anti-climatic gymnast act completed, the Pellegrini Brothers followed by the madam in leather, left the stage to the sounds of clapping from an enthusiastic audience, including a smiling pope and host of cardinals.

Pellegrini Brothers Perform at “Gay Circus”

On July 25-27, 2008, the Pellegrini Brothers appeared in the Gay Circus, a specially-staged 3-day event set within the framework of the XII EuroGames (“Gay Olympics”) in Barcelona, Spain. Up until this point, the Pellegrini name had been associated with well-known international circuses including the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus (USA), the Circus Knie (Switzerland), and the International Circus Festival (Monte Carlo).

Billed as “a show for people without prejudices,” that is “a gay and lesbian friendly audience,” by publicist Irene Peralta, the “Gay Circus” was created as an artistic tribute to gay culture and as a “contribution to the normalization of homosexuality.” It featured male/male performers in a homoerotic setting. Peralta told reporters that “Gay Circus will transform the traditional understanding of the circus.”

The homosexual media touted the event as an opportunity for parents to introduce their sons to other forms of sexual love outside the traditional male/female model, and to give greater exposure to homosexuality as a legitimate sexual preference. Video selections of the Gay Circus show many children in the audience. Ticket sales were estimated to be over 12,000.

The theme of the Gay Circus centered upon the eternal struggle between Good and Evil. Sadomasochist elements which dominate gay culture were visible both in the costuming and demeanor of the performers. One aerial act featured two male “angels” in a tight embrace naked except for a g-string. Another, with two “devils” in black leather jockstraps and harnesses. A short video of the Pellegrini Brothers performance at the Gay Circus, which was very similar to the portion of their act performed at the papal audience complete with an opening strip scenario, showed two burly shirtless men acting as jacket attendants.

According to Gay Circus producer Genis Matabosch, artistic performance and quality were the primary criteria for casting, not sexual orientation. Matabosch admitted he did not know who among the cast was homosexual and who was not.

The Vatican Circus Dicastery

So, how did the Fratelli Pellegrini make the transition from the Barcelona Gay Circus to a performance at a formal papal audience attended by thousands of Catholics and non-Catholics from around the world as well as the international media?

The Pellegrini Brothers were in Rome to participate in the International Congress on the Pastoral Care of Circus and Traveling Show People being held in Vatican City from December 13-16, 2010. The event comes under the jurisdiction of the Curia’s Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerants, created by Pope John Paul II in 1988. The President of the Council is Archbishop Antonio Maria Vegliò. The staff is made up of 14 assistants and a large number of “members,” advisors and consultants including U.S. Cardinals Adam Maida and Theodore McCarrick.

The last Vatican Circus Congress was held in December 12-16, 2004 with 90 official participants including National Circus Directors, chaplains, religious and laity including some circus performers. The theme of the Congress was “Welcoming Circus and Traveling Show People – From Diversity to a Friendly Coexistence.”

The stated purpose of the Congress is to promote the spiritual welfare of Catholic circus people, although it serves other purposes as well. For example, in a major address delivered to the 2004 Circus Congress, Archbishop Agostino Marchetto, Secretary for the Pontifical Council on Migrants, used the opportunity to hammer away at a favorite post-Conciliar theme – “dialogue.” Thus in the Congress’ “Final Document” we read about the need for dialogue everywhere:

dialogue in pastoral work; dialogue and mission; training for dialogue; a school to educate for dialogue; dialogue with indigenous populations; dialogue against every form of prejudice, racism, and xenophobia; dialogue with a view to integration (not assimilation); dialogue aimed at inculturation, dialogue implying reciprocity; the dialogue of life; dialogue and new evangelisation; dialogue, liturgy, prayer and places of worship; dialogue and matrimony; dialogue leading to communion in diversity; and dialogue and Church discipline.

As the Congress drew to a close, John Paul II told the Congress participants that the circus and amusement parks “can be turned into a new field of the great themes of pastoral care, ecumenicalism and the encounter of members of other religions, and the common commitment to building a universal brotherhood.”

No doubt the irony of these tributes to Modernism and Progressivism was not lost on the Catholic circus population which makes up approximately three-quarters of the world’s circus population. Italy alone has 150 circuses and 65,000 families engaged in amusement parks and fairs.

Although circus families face problems common to society in general, especially drug and alcohol abuse, care for the elderly, and the education of the young, the typical multi-generational Catholic circus family is strong in structure, morally upright, pious and traditional in its beliefs and practices. Efforts to promote ecumenicalism and “dialogue” have been largely wasted on tradition-bound circus families.

Another good piece of news is that while the world-wide Homosexual Collective has made great inroads into many occupations, until 2008, with the creation of Barcelona Gay Circus, the circus has not been one of them.

Who is to Blame for the Pellegrini Incident?

The answer is obvious – the leadership of the International Congress on the Pastoral Care of Circus People and the Pontifical Council for Migrants, as well as officials charged with screening entertainers invited to perform at papal audiences.

The Vatican has a dress code strictly enforced by the Swiss guards. Why would this not apply to entertainers at Vatican functions as well? There is no reason that the Pellegrini Brothers could not have worn the traditional gymnastic uniform of male Olympic athletes consisting of a one-piece singlet and matching stirrup pants. And who authorized the dame in leather?

Further, aren’t security background checks performed on such individuals who perform within feet of the Holy Father? Was no member of the dicastery informed of the Pellegrini Brothers’ participation in the Barcelona Gay Circus, an action which should have disqualified them from participating in the deliberations of the International Congress as well as being honored as a guest of the Vatican with a worldwide audience? Regardless if any or all or none of the Pellegrini Brothers are homosexual, they freely participated in an immoral production specifically created to advance the agenda of Organized Perversion. Such action should never have been rewarded.

After viewing the Pellegrini video, I asked myself even if Vatican officials knew about the Pellegrini Brothers’ Gay Circus engagement would it have made any difference? I don’t know.

Vatican Capitulation in the Face of Organized Perversion

Sadly, the crux of the problem, I fear, is not so much a matter of mere bureaucratic inefficiency and lax vetting by the Vatican.

It has been at least 40 years since the forces of Organized Perversion, as manifested by the so-called “Gay Liberation Movement” – with its connections to a world-wide network of illicit drug trade, pornography, prostitution and organized crime – declared war on God, the Catholic Church and Civil Society.

Thus far, the Holy See has yet to even recognize that it IS at war with the forces of Organized Perversion, both within and without the Church, much less launched any kind of effective resistance or counter measures.

Remember the Austrian Sankt Polten Seminary Scandal which occurred under the watch of John Paul II? Among the least pornographic photos released by the media were those showing the seminary’s vice-rector open mouth kissing the rector at a seminary Christmas party? According to Apostolic Visitor Rev. Klaus Kung, the seminary was operating “as a veritable brothel.”

Given the extent of seminary homosexual scandals being laid at the door of the Holy See, why have we yet to hear any announcement from the Holy See that it intends to clean out the Lavender Mafia from seminaries (and houses of women religious) world wide, and it is willing to investigate charges of sexual abuse of seminarians and female novices and nuns by predatory rectors, bishop, and convent superiors? I have not heard of any such pronouncement. Have you?

Remember the Msgr. Tommaso Stenico Scandal which occurred under Benedict XVI’s watch? Stenico, a relatively high-ranking official of the Vatican’s Congregation for Clergy which oversees the world’s priests, was caught on camera in his Vatican office soliciting homosex from a young man. In his own defense, Stenico later claimed he was engaged in undercover work for his superiors and that he maintained a detailed dossier on homosexual prelates and prelates working in the Vatican. Stenico was suspended, but we were never informed of the truth of the matter by the Vatican.

Don’t these scandals coupled with the criminal actions of pederast and homosexual priests, religious and prelates for which the Church has paid dearly in terms of loss of souls and billions of dollars in settlement claims suggest to the Holy See the need for an internal moral house cleaning beginning with the Vatican itself.

A more recent case is point was an incident that occurred during Benedict XVI’s visit to England in September 2010. The Vatican's chief spokesman, Father Federico Lombardi, was asked by a Catholic reporter at a public press conference if the pope was going to address the pressing issue of “gay” Masses (with accompanying sacrilegious communions by openly practicing homosexuals and lesbians) held in Catholic churches in London. Lombardi responded that, “No it wasn’t on his [the pope’s] schedule.”

“Why not?” I might ask.

Isn’t the Holy See interested in defending the honor and glory of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament of the Eucharist? How many complaints does the pope need to close down these homosexual Masses and parishes like Most Holy Redeemer in San Francisco and St. Francis Xavier Parish in Manhattan, and those in London and elsewhere?

Now it stands to reason that if the pope cannot bring himself to publicly acknowledge that the Church is at war with the forces of Organized Perversion, most especially, the international Homosexual Collective, if he does not take the threats of these forces of Organized Evil seriously, if he does little or nothing to support the Catholic laity which has picked up the gauntlet and accepted this challenge which spews forth from the bowels of Hell, then his underlings including those officials at the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerants will not take the matter seriously either, even if should mean another public humiliation for the Holy Father and an attack on the very honor of God and the office of the Papacy, which the Pellegrini Affair certainly was.

Randy Engel is the director of the US Coalition for Life.



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