A senior Roman Catholic Church official has been suspended after he was identified in a television broadcast supposedly declaring his homosexuality and making advances to a young man.

Originally only identified as sixty-year-old, working in the Congregation for the Clergy department which manges the 400,000 active Catholic priests across the globe.

He was identified by Vatican officials who recognised his office in the background of the picture.

He was today named as Monsignor Tommaso Stenico following an interview in La Repubblicawhere he said he is not gay and was only pretending to be gay as part of his work.

In a supposed interview, Monsignor Stenico said that he did not regard his homosexuality as sinful but was discreet in order not to attract the attention of the his superiors or the Pope,

He claimed to be pretending to be gay on gay online chat rooms in order to meet gay men as part of his work as a psychoanalyst.

He claimed this was to gather information about “those who damage the image of the Church with homosexual activity.”

He added: “It’s all false – I was in a trap. I was a victim of my own attempts to contribute to cleaning up the Church with my psychoanalyst work.”

But a Papal spokesman Father Federico Lombardi told the news agency ANSA:

“His superiors are treating this situation with the required discretion and respect due to the person concerned, regardless of whether this person has committed errors.

“The authorities are obliged to act with the necessary severity against behaviour that is incompatible with religious service and the mission of the Holy See,” he added.