Andrew Sullivan, a prominent Catholic and columnist for The Dish and other publications, suggests that the outgoing Pope Benedict may be secretly gay.
The comment stemmed from the recent announcement that Benedict will not go into hidden retirement but will instead continue living in the Vatican.
Sullivan, himself openly gay, speculates that Pope Benedict's relationship with secretary Archbishop Georg Gaenswein is the impetus behind that.
In a post titled, "Two Popes, One Secretary," writes that "something truly weird is going on" between Benedict and Gaenswein, a.k.a. "Gorgeous Georg."
Gaenswein was recently featured on the cover of Italian Vanity Fair, which titled its piece on the Pope's confidant: "Father Georg - It's not a sin to be beautiful."
"So Pope Benedict’s handsome male companion will continue to live with him, while working for the other Pope during the day," Sullivan writes.
"Are we supposed to think that’s, well, a normal arrangement?"
Clearly, Sullivan does not, and he's probably not the only one.
Sullivan says it "seems pretty obvious" that Benedict "is a gay man," albeit one who has not "explored his sexuality, or has violated his own strictures on the matter."
Detailing the close relationship between His Holiness and his right-hand man, Sullivan cites Colm Toibin's review of Angelo Quattrocchi's book The Pope Is Not Gay.
Asked in the book if he felt nervous in the presence of Benedict, who officially stepped down this week, Ganswein replied that he sometimes did, noting:
"But it is also true that the fact of meeting each other and being together on a daily basis creates a sense of 'familiarity,' which makes you feel less nervous."
"Obviously I know who the Holy Father is and I know how to behave appropriately. There are always some situations, however, when the heart beats a little stronger than usual."
Gaenswein's proposed living arrangement is just more proof for Sullivan that the now-retired, 85-year-old pope is, in act, a closeted homosexual.
"This man - clearly in some kind of love with Ratzinger (and vice-versa) will be working for the new Pope as secretary in the day and spending the nights with the Pope Emeritus," he writes.
"This is not the Vatican. It’s Melrose Place."
Sullivan's column is more grist for the Vatican gay rumor mill, coming on the heels of allegations regarding the reasons for Pope Benedict's resignation.
Italy's La Repubblica alleges the existence of a damning internal document citeing powerful lobbying influences within the Vatican, including a gay lobby.
La Repubblica also suggests that a gay underground network organizes sexual meetings of members at venues across Rome and Vatican City.