A senior member of the Catholic Church has urged a member of the Swiss Guard to give names to back up his claims of sexual advances from church officials.

Last week a Swiss Guard former commandant confirmed reports that a member of the guard had been the subject of the sexual advances.

To the questions of such advances, he responded: “I know from personal experience that the gay lobby exists,” saying that gay people within the Vatican were part of a “secret society”.

Elmar Maeder, who was in charge of the Swiss Guards between 2002 and 2008, went so far as to say that a “security risk” arises from the gay members of the Vatican being more loyal to one another than they are to the church.

Archbishop Angelo Becciu, gave an interview with La Repubblica on Friday, in which he urged Maeder to give names to back up the claims.

Italian daily newspaper La Repubblica last year published an article 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”.

The Vatican denied these claims.

Pope Francis, however, admitted to the existence of the “gay lobby” inside the Vatican’s secretive administration, the Curia.

“In the Curia, there are truly some saints, but there is also a current of corruption,”  Pope Francis is quoted as having said.