A theologist who worked at the Vatican says having gay priests ‘works well’ for the Catholic church.

David Berger – who is openly gay – said that over half of priests working for the Catholic church are gay.

He said that this number is even higher in the Vatican and that the church “use” the sexuality of these men to “guilt-trip” them into being better priests.

“You have the advantage of having many gay men with a guilty conscience. They do their best to be especially smart, loyal to the Pope and hard working,” he said in an interview with German magazine Stern.

“Which is why they have the best chances for a career and, through this, get into the Vatican.

“There, they find a network of gay men in which people help each other out.”

Berger worked at the Pontifical Academy of St Thomas Aquinas in Vatican City, but was forced to leave when he came out as gay.

However, he says being gay actually helps further your career, he claimed, as “being gay is an important apparatus of power” in the Vatican and priests who come out are seen as the “ultimate threat”.

“Those in power don’t have anything left with which to hold you down. That’s a disaster beyond all expectations.”

His claims comes amid heightened tensions over the Church’s anti-LGBT stance, after a Polish priest was sacked for coming out as gay.

Yesterday, a former Catholic priest claimed that the Vatican is funding therapy to ‘cure’ the homosexuality of gay clergymen.

The allegations come from Sardinian former priest Mario Bonfanti, who was also forced out of the church for his sexuality, despite maintaining his vow of celibacy.