“Pope pushed by ‘VatiLeaks’, says paper” & related articles

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The Sydney Morning Herald

23 February 2013 (Australian time)

Pope Benedict XVI 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.

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”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.

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Report into Vatican pushed pope to resign

The Irish Times

22 February 2013

PADDY AGNEW

The pre-conclave climate in Rome touched fever point yesterday following sensational Italian media claims that Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation was at least partly prompted by the “inappropriate influence” of various lobbies, including a gay lobby, in internal Holy See affairs.

Weekly news magazine Panorama and Rome newspaper La Repubblica claimed that the pope had been bitterly dismayed on December 17th last year by an internal report into the so-called “Vatileaks” scandal. The report, commissioned by the pontiff last April and prepared by Cardinals Julián Herranz, Jozef Tomko and Salvatore De Giorgi, apparently confirmed the widespread media portrayal of a Holy See riven with rivalries and careerism.

Furthermore, the cardinals’ report claimed that various lobbies within the Holy See were consistently breaking the sixth and seventh commandments, namely “thou shalt not steal” and “thou shalt not commit adultery”. The “stealing” was in particular related to the Vatican Bank, IOR, while the sexual offences were related to the influence of an active gay lobby within the Vatican.

The cardinals’ 300-page report represented the last straw for the pope, hardening his long-meditated intention to resign, according to the media. The Vatileaks scandal itself culminated with the arrest and subsequent conviction last year of the pope’s butler, Paolo Gabriele, who was found guilty of having stolen confidential documents from the papal apartment.

La Repubblica also claims that the report speaks of inappropriate influence on the part of various lobbies, some of them of a “worldly nature”, reflecting an “outside influence”. It reminded readers about Angelo Balducci, who was accused three years ago of being a member of a gay ring, active within the Vatican and involving choristers and seminarians.

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Vatican should act on gay sex claims, says George Pell

The Australian

February 23, 2013 12:00AM(Australian time)

by: Tess Livingstone

George Pell

Cardinal George Pell at his last mass this week at St Vincent’s Church in Ashfield, Sydney, before flying to Rome. Picture: Sam Mooy Source: The Australian

AUSTRALIA’S Cardinal George Pell yesterday called on the Vatican press office to respond “in some constructive way” to reports of an internal investigation by three senior cardinals that told Pope Benedict XVI about an insidious web of blackmail, corruption and homosexual sex inside the Vatican.

Italy’s La Repubblica newspaper linked Benedict’s resignation with a top secret 300-page dossier prepared by Spanish Cardinal Julian Herranz, Slovak Cardinal Jozef Tomko and Italian Cardinal Salvatore De Giorgi into the “Vatileaks” affair, which saw the Pope’s former butler, Paolo Gabriele, arrested and jailed for stealing and leaking papal documents.

None of the three cardinals will take part in the conclave because they are over 80 years of age, but they are expected to brief those voting about their findings.

According to La Repubblica, the report was “an exact map of the mischief and the bad fish” inside the Holy See, with the cardinals finding that one faction of Vatican officials, “united by sexual orientation”, had been subject to “external influence” from laymen with whom they had links of a “worldly nature”, which the paper said was a reference to blackmail.

It quoted a source close to the cardinals as saying that everything centred on “non-observance of the sixth and seventh commandments”, which forbid adultery (included homosexual sex) and stealing. The report also mentioned numerous venues in and around Rome where clandestine encounters took place, including a sauna, a beauty parlour and a university residence.

Speaking just before he flew to Rome for the conclave that will elect Benedict’s successor, Cardinal Pell, who read the full article, said: “I know nothing of the content of the report but whatever it contains it is clear that significant reforms are needed within the Vatican bureaucracy.”

He praised Benedict for his “courage for commissioning such a report”.

The cardinal said it remained to be seen how much of La Repubblica’s report was accurate or whether it went beyond recycling material already on the public record. But it was important, he said, that the Vatican press office responded “as I’m sure it will given recent reforms”.

But Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi pulled down the shutters yesterday. He said: “Don’t expect comments or rebuttals of what is being said on this issue.”

Cardinal Herranz, who chaired the commission, confirmed: “The Pope is the only person we have reported to on this question.”

The report was handed to the Pope on December 17 last year and has been locked in a Vatican safe, awaiting Benedict’s successor.

In a wide-ranging interview with The Weekend Australian, Cardinal Pell said the 24-hour news cycle had became a game-changer for the Pope and the church, just as it had for domestic and international politics.

As cardinals head to Rome for a series of meetings ahead of the conclave, controversy surrounds the attendance of retired Los Angeles cardinal Roger Mahony. Cardinal Mahony was stood down from all church duties earlier this month by his successor over his mishandling of sexual abuse complaints.

Tomorrow, Benedict will greet the crowd that will gather in St Peter’s Square for the final Angelus address of his pontificate. More than 30,000 have applied for tickets for his General Audience in the square on Wednesday.

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Pope appoints Maltese to third highest post at Vatican

Pope Benedict XVI has appointed Mgr. Antoine Camilleri as under-secretary for the Holy See’s relations with States.

Malta Today

22 February 2-13

Karl Stagno-Navarra

Mgr Antoine Camilleri

47 year-old Mgr Antonie Camilleri has been appointed by Pope Benedict XVI to the third highest ranking post in the Vatican, making him under-secretary to the Holy-See’s relations with States.

A law graduate in 1988, Mgr. Camilleri was ordained into priesthood in 1991 and has been part of the Vatican’s diplomatic service since 1999.

He replaces Mgr. Ettore Balestrero, who has been controversially appointed as Nuncio to Colombia, following reports about his close relations with Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone, and his liaisons with the beleaguered Vatican bank IOR.

His replacement and appointment as Nuncio to Colombia is being considered as a kick-upstairs in a bid to keep him far from Rome.

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Gossip scandal erupts in Vatican ahead of pope’s exit

NDTV (Malta)

Agence France-Presse | Updated: February 22, 2013 19:34 IST

Gossip scandal erupts in Vatican ahead of pope's exit

Vatican City: With just days to go before Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation, the Vatican is battling persistent rumours that his decision was triggered by an explosive report on intrigue in its corridors of power.

The secret report compiled by a committee of three cardinals for the pope’s eyes only was the result of a wide-ranging investigation into leaks of confidential papers from the Vatican that caused huge embarrassment last year.

The cardinals questioned dozens of Vatican officials and presented the pope with their final report in December 2012, just before Benedict pardoned his former butler Paolo Gabriele who had been convicted of leaking the papal memos.

The Panorama news weekly and the Republica daily said on Thursday their report contained allegations of corruption and of blackmail attempts against gay Vatican clergymen, as well as favouritism based on gay relationships.

Both publications quoted a source with knowledge of the investigation saying that the cardinals’ conclusions “revolve around the sixth and seventh commandments” — “Thou shall not commit adultery” and “Thou shall not steal”.

The Vatican has declined to comment on these two reports, with spokesman Federico Lombardi saying they were “conjectures, fictions and opinions.”

The run-up to papal conclaves to elect a new pope is often accompanied by rumours and gossip in Italian media, as rival factions battle for influence.

But there was a twist on Friday when Pope Benedict XVI replaced Monsignor Ettore Balestrero, a powerful behind-the-scenes figure in the Secretariat of State with a major role in handling the Vatican bank’s foreign relations.

He is being sent as Vatican envoy to Colombia — a serious demotion.

Balestrero has been a key figure in Vatican efforts to overhaul its scandal-tainted bank to comply with international anti-money laundering laws.

La Repubblica said Balestrero’s name was mentioned in the cardinals’ report.

A Vatican expert at Italian daily La Stampa said the pope would likely meet with the three retired cardinals who authored the report before resigning.

The report could also be discussed during a series of meetings for cardinals beginning next Friday, a day after the pope steps down, where priorities for the Catholic Church will be debated and potential papal candidates sussed out.

The “Vatileaks” scandal first exploded in January last year when Italian media published a series of letters to the pope in which Carlo Maria Vigano, the head of the Vatican City’s government denounced corruption and waste.

The following leaks pointed to divisions in the Vatican hierarchy including efforts to unseat Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone, a divisive figure.

On May 23, Gabriele was arrested and his house inside the Vatican walls was raided by special gendarmes who found hundreds of sensitive documents.

A day later, the head of the Vatican bank, Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, was sacked, accused of mismanagement and indiscretions linked to the leaks.

Gabriele was convicted after a week-long trial in the Vatican in October.

The pope asked cardinals to investigate last year, giving them free rein to interview anyone of the 2,843 people working in the Roman Curia and 2,001 people working for the governorate, the administration of the Vatican City.

The committee was also allowed to collect testimony from cardinals.

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Italian paper says cardinals discovered homosexual network within Vatican

CatholicCulture.org

CWN – February 21, 2013

The Vatican has refused to comment on Italian press reports that an internal report on the “Vatileaks” scandal might have influenced the decision by Pope Benedict XVI to resign.

The daily La Repubblica reported that in their report to the Pope, a commission of 3 cardinals investigating the leaked papal documents had found evidence of a homosexual network within the Vatican, and hinted at the possibility that some Vatican officials were subject to blackmail.

“There will be no comment, denials or confirmation of what has been written in an Italian newspaper,” Father Federico Lombardi, the director of the Vatican press office, told reporters during a February 21 briefing. However the papal spokesman urged reporters to be responsible in their handling of unsubstantiated rumors.

Father Lombardi said that the three cardinals had submitted their report privately to Pope Benedict, and it would be passed on to his successor. The three prelates who investigated the “Vatileaks” scandal and prepared a thorough report—Cardinals Julian Herranz, Jozef Tomko, and Salvatore De Giorgi—will not be giving interviews or divulging details regarding the contents of the report, he said. Cardinal Herranz, who chaired the commission, confirmed: “The Pope is the only person we have reported to on this question.”

La Repubblica claimed that in a lengthy report on the leaks, the cardinals had alerted the Pontiff to the existence of factions within the Roman Curia, including a powerful faction “united by sexual orientation.” Some members of that bloc, the cardinals reportedly said, may be vulnerable to “external influence” because of their activities. The Italian newspaper said that the report shocked Pope Benedict and contributed to his decision to resign.

Ignazio Ingrao, who covers the Vatican for Panorama magazine, backed the report by La Repubblica. He said that the cardinals’ commission disclosed “a network of alliances and acts of blackmail of homosexual nature in several areas of the Curia.”

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