by John Hooper
22 February 2013
Pope's staff decline to confirm
La Repubblica claims linking 'Vatileaks'
and discovery of 'blackmailed
A Swiss guard at the
The Vatican is awhirl with rumors about the pope's decision to
A potentially explosive report has linked the resignation of Pope
Benedict XVI to the discovery
of a network of gay prelates in the Vatican, some of whom - the
report said - were being blackmailed by outsiders.
The pope's spokesman declined to confirm or deny the report, which
was carried by the Italian daily newspaper La Repubblica.
The paper said the pope had taken the decision on 17 December that
he was going to resign - the day he received a dossier compiled by
three cardinals delegated to look into the
so-called "Vatileaks" affair.
Last May Pope Benedict's butler, Paolo Gabriele, was arrested
and charged with having stolen and leaked papal correspondence that
depicted the Vatican as a seething hotbed of intrigue and
According to La Repubblica, the dossier comprising "two volumes of
almost 300 pages - bound in red" had been consigned to a safe in the
papal apartments and would be delivered to the pope's successor upon
The newspaper said the cardinals described a number of factions,
including one whose members were "united by sexual orientation".
In an apparent quotation from the report, La Repubblica said some
Vatican officials had been subject to "external influence" from
laymen with whom they had links of a "worldly nature".
The paper said this was a clear
reference to blackmail.
It quoted a source,
"very close to those who wrote [the
cardinal's report]" as saying: "Everything revolves around the
non-observance of the sixth and seventh commandments."
The seventh enjoins against theft. The
sixth forbids adultery, but is linked in Catholic doctrine to the
proscribing of homosexual acts.
La Repubblica said the cardinals' report identified a series of
meeting places in and around Rome.
a villa outside the Italian
a sauna in a Rome suburb
a beauty parlour in the centre
a former university residence
that was in use by a provincial Italian archbishop
Father Federico Lombardi, the
Vatican spokesman, said:
"Neither the cardinals' commission
nor I will make comments to confirm or deny the things that are
said about this matter. Let each one assume his or her own
responsibilities. We shall not be following up on the
observations that are made about this."
He added that interpretations of the
report were creating,
"a tension that is the opposite of
what the pope and the church want" in the approach to the
conclave of cardinals that will elect Benedict's successor.
Another Italian daily, Corriere della
Sera, alluded to the dossier soon after the pope announced his
resignation on 11 February, describing its contents as "disturbing".
The three-man commission of inquiry into the Vatileaks affair was
headed by a Spanish cardinal, Julián Herranz.
He was assisted by Cardinal Salvatore
De Giorgi, a former archbishop of Palermo, and the Slovak
cardinal Jozef Tomko, who once headed the Vatican's
department for missionaries.
Pope Benedict has said he will
stand down at the end of this month; the first pope to
resign voluntarily since Celestine V more than seven centuries ago.
Since announcing his departure he has twice apparently referred to
machinations inside the Vatican, saying that divisions "mar the face
of the church", and warned against "the temptations of power".
La Repubblica's report was the latest in a string of claims that a
gay network exists in the Vatican.
In 2007 a senior official was suspended
from the congregation, or department, for the priesthood, after he
was filmed in a "sting" organized by an Italian television program
while apparently making sexual overtures to a younger man.
In 2010 a chorister was dismissed for allegedly procuring male
prostitutes for a papal gentleman-in-waiting. A few months later a
weekly news magazine used hidden cameras to record priests visiting
gay clubs and bars and having sex.
The Vatican does not condemn homosexuals, but it teaches that
gay sex is "intrinsically disordered".
Pope Benedict has barred sexually active
gay men from studying for the priesthood.