Posted by Censor Librorum on May 2, 2009 | Categories: History, Lesbians & Gays, Scandals

While researching a post about the character of Sal Romano, a closeted homosexual advertising executive on the very popular AMC series, “Mad Men,” I clicked on a link to a story about the 2002  murder of Salvatore Romano, 57, the last of the capoclaques, professional clappers traditionally entrusted with leading the applause at the theater, opera  or other such event.   Romano was paid by singers to   applaud their performances at Rome’s opera house.   He was believed to be murdered by someone he picked up and brought home for sex. Neighbors saw a young man running down the stairs with a cigarette in his mouth.

But it was another Roman  victim mentioned in the article that caught my eye – Enrico Luizi, a papal protocol aide.

“Police are hunting for the killer of one of the pope’s gentlemen-in-waiting,” an article began, “who was found battered to death in his apartment surrounded by his Vatican medals and with a gay pornographic cassette in his VCR.”

Papal official Enrico Sini Luzi, 67, was founded dressed in his underwear with a cashmere scarf wrapped around his neck, lying face down on a velvet  cushion. The back of his head had been smashed in by a brass candelabrum found nearby.

At the time of his death in January 1998, he was the latest of 19 men, suspected to be gay, who were murdered in Rome since 1990. There was speculation that some or all of the unsolved killings are the work of a serial killer, as many of the victims were found with scarves tied around their necks.

Mr. Sini Luzi, in his day garb of white tie and tails bedecked with papal decorations, served as an escort for bishops, ambassadors and heads of state who came to the Apostolic Palace for audiences with Pope John Paul II. His family family belonged to the minor nobility. genti

At night, Luzi was a well-known figure in Roman male-only bars.

“He was a sociable man, maybe too much so.   He knew a lot of people and brought many people home, usually young people,” a neighbor said.

The Vatican yearbook noted Mr.  Sini  Luzi began service as a Gentleman of His Holiness in April 1989. The Gentlemen of His Holiness were formerly known as Papal Chamberlains; they received their current title after the 1968 reform of papal ceremonies by Pope Paul VI.

A Vatican spokesman didn’t comment on Luzi’s murder, but the newspaper La Repubblica quoted an official of the Curia, the Rev. Giovanni D’Ercole, as saying: “In the face of death, one must only be silent. One cannot express judgements because it is not yet clear how the whole thing happened.”

Avvenire, the daily newspaper of the Italian Catholic bishops’ conference, reported in a brief notice that Luzi, whom it identified only as “E.S.L, a Roman nobleman,” died earlier that week, presumably the victim of violence.

Franco Grillini of Arcigay, the Italian gay and lesbian rights organization, accused the Vatican and Catholic hierarchy of creating a “homophobic atmosphere” that he said was “in large part responsible for this culture of violence.”

“This time, the victim is a gentleman of the pope’s entourage, which confirms that the people at risk are those who hide and live among people where homosexuality is not acknowledged, like the Curia,” he said.

Some members of Mr. Sini Luzi’s familystrenuously denied he was homosexual. “He was not a person of ‘certain habits,'” his brother, Lillo, 72, was quoted by La Repubblica as saying. “Such comportment cannot be reconciled with his morality and the Catholic education he always observed.”

Mr. Lillo Sini Luzi said any evidence of homosexual activity found in his brother’s apartment had probably been introduced by the assailant “as a trick.”