Pope pushed by 'VatiLeaks', says paper
Revealing inquiry … Pope Benedict. Photo: Reuters
ROME: Pope Benedict resigned after an internal investigation informed him about a web of blackmail, corruption and gay sex in the Vatican, Italian media have reported.
Three cardinals were asked by Benedict to verify allegations of financial impropriety, cronyism and corruption exposed in the so-called VatiLeaks affair.
The inquiry was led by a three-man panel, headed by a Spanish cardinal, Juliá´n Herranz. Cardinal Salvatore De Giorgi, former archbishop of Palermo, and Slovak cardinal Jozef Tomko, assisted him.
On December 17, 2012, they handed the pontiff two red-leather bound volumes, almost 300 pages long, containing ''an exact map of the mischief and the bad fish'' inside the Holy See, La Repubblica reported.
''It was on that day, with those papers on his desk, that Benedict XVI took the decision he had mulled over for so long,'' said the centre-left newspaper. It said its article was the first of a series.
Panorama, a conservative weekly, did not speculate about the motives behind Benedict's resignation, but its story about the contents of the confidential report was broadly similar.
A Vatican spokesman, Federico Lombardi, refused to ''run after fantasies and opinions'' and warned reporters: ''Don't expect comments or rebuttals of what is being said on this issue.''
''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,'' Father Lombardi said.
La Repubblica quoted a man described as ''very close'' to the authors as saying the information it contained was ''all about the breach of the sixth and seven commandments'' - which say ''thou shalt not commit adultery'' and ''thou shalt not steal''.
The cardinals were said to have uncovered an underground gay network whose members organise sexual meetings in several venues in Rome and Vatican City, leaving them prone to blackmail.
The secret report also delves into suspect dealings at the Institute for Religious Works, the Vatican's bank, where a new chairman was appointed last week after a nine-month vacancy, La Repubblica said, without going into details.
The newspaper said Benedict would personally hand the confidential files to his successor, with the hope he will be ''strong, young and holy'' enough to take the necessary action. The authors of the secret report, all over 80 years old, will not be part of the conclave that will elect the new pope. Panorama magazine has speculated they would be expected to speak with other cardinals who will vote about their report.
The magazine predicted the report's findings ''will condition the conclave'' because it will be important to choose ''a pope immune to blackmail, so that he can start the clean-up operation that [Benedict] entrusted to his successor''. In his response to the publication of the claims, Father Lombardi expressed concerns that the way the reports were being viewed was creating ''a tension that is the opposite of what the Pope and the church want'' in the weeks leading up to the election of a new pontiff.
The inquiry's findings had previously been mentioned by an Italian newspaper, Corriere della Sera, in the days after the announcement by the Pope that he was stepping down.