Andrew Sullivan, one of America’s highest-profile political bloggers, has claimed that the outgoing Pope Benedict XVI may be secretly gay.

Sullivan made the claims following the announcement that Benedict will not go into hidden retirement but will instead continue living in the Vatican with trusted secretary Archbishop Georg Gaenswein.

56-year-old Gaenswein, dubbed “Gorgeous Georg” by the Italian media, will live with Benedict at a monastery being converted for him inside Vatican grounds while keeping his day job as prefect of the new Pope’s household.

In an article on his site ‘The Dish’, Sullivan writes: “The damage Benedict XVI has done to the Catholic Church and the papacy may be far from over. All I can say about yesterday’s developments is that they seem potentially disastrous and also indicative to me of something truly weird going on underneath all of this.”

The gay Catholic blogger continues: “Benedict XVI has claimed that his almost unprecedented resignation came about simply because of his physical infirmity in the face of what appears to be a growing vortex of sexual and financial scandal inside the Vatican. He said he would quietly disappear to serve the church through prayer and meditation.

“But we now realise he’s going nowhere. He’s staying in the Vatican’s walls, and retaining the honorific ‘His Holiness.’ He will keep white robes. His full title will be Pope Emeritus. Far from wearing clerical black, returning to the title of Bishop of Rome, and disappearing into a monastery in Bavaria, he’s going to be a shadow Pope in the Vatican. And this, we are told, was his decision.”

“So 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?”

Sullivan adds: “This man – clearly in some kind of love with Ratzinger (and vice-versa) will now be working for the new Pope as secretary in the day and spending the nights with the Pope Emeritus. This is not the Vatican. It’s Melrose Place.”

Italian daily newspaper La Repubblica published an article last Thursday claiming that Pope Benedict XVI’s decision to resign was in part finalised by a Vatican report showing that the Holy See was affected by outside influences, including a “gay lobby”.

Last Saturday, the Vatican refused to confirm or deny claims of a network of gay prelates operating at its heart, some of whom allegedly have been blackmailed.

Since assuming the top job in the Catholic Church, Pope Benedict XVI has pursued a staunchly anti-gay doctrine.

In 2012, the Pope warned that introducing equal marriage around the world would risk the future of humanity itself.

At the end of the year, in his message for World Day of Peace 2013, he said same-sex marriage is unnatural and poses a threat to “justice and peace”.

Days before he was pictured giving a blessing to Rebecca Kadaga, the Speaker of the Ugandan Parliament, who has promised to pass the country’s notorious Anti-Homosexuality Bill.

In an end-of year address in 2008, the Pope said that the existence of gay people threatened humanity as much as the destruction of the rainforests does and that “blurring” genders through acceptance of transgender people would kill off the human race.