Pope Francis is trying to “purify” the so-called gay lobby within the Vatican, a Cardinal has claimed.

There have long been claims surrounding an alleged gay lobby within the Catholic church – an allegation often applied to any cardinal who dares stand up for LGBT rights.

However, one high-ranking Church official insists the ‘gay lobby’ is very much real – and Pope Francis is trying to “purify” them.

Cardinal Oscar Maradiaga, the Archbishop of Tegucigalpa, was asked by Honduran newspaper El Heraldo whether there is a real “infiltration of the gay community in the Vatican”.

According to the Catholic News Agency, he replied: “Not only that, also the Pope said there was even a ‘lobby’ in this sense.

“Little by little the Pope is trying to purify it.

“One can understand them, and there is pastoral legislation to attend to them, but what is wrong cannot be truth.”

We can only dream of what the Pope’s plans for ‘purification’ are – it emerged last year that the Catholic Church runs its own secret ‘gay cure’ centre for priests.

In book published last week, Pope Francis called upon gay people to pray away their sins – in comments that were widely reported to be pro-gay.

Explaining his infamous “Who Am I To Judge?” comments, the Pope affirmed the Church’s existing Catechism – which also says gay people are “disordered”.

He wrote: “On that occasion I said this: If a person is gay and seeks out the Lord and is willing, who am I to judge that person?”

“I was paraphrasing by heart the Catechism of the Catholic Church where it says that these people should be treated with delicacy and not be marginalized.”

He continued: “I am glad that we are talking about ‘homosexual people’ because before all else comes the individual person, in his wholeness and dignity.

“People should not be defined only by their sexual tendencies: let us not forget that God loves all his creatures and we are destined to receive his infinite love.”

“I prefer that homosexuals come to confession, that they stay close to the Lord, and that we pray all together.

“You can advise them to pray, show goodwill, show them the way, and accompany them along it.”