<strong>WATCH: How The Pope Is Picked</strong>
Following Pope Benedict’s surprise resignation earlier this month, it didn’t take long for conspiracy theories to come out of the woodwork.
To a certain extent, this is expected — a Pope hasn’t resigned in centuries, and certain aspects of Benedict’s time at the top of the Vatican have been controversial — not least the damaging ‘VatiLeaks’ scandal.
Today, Italy’s La Repubblica newspaper added fuel to the fire, alleging that Benedict’s resignation was prompted by a report prepared by three Cardinals on conflict and corruption in the Vatican — including what it says is the “inappropriate influence” of a gay lobby within the Holy See.
The newspaper — which has the largest circulation within Italy — says that Benedict asked three Cardinals, Julian Herranz, Josef Tomko and Salvatore De Giorgi, to conduct an internal report after the VatiLeaks scandal. When the 300 page report was delivered to Benedict in December, it reportedly cemented a decision that he had already been considering — it was time to resign.
What was so damning in the report? While La Repubblica doesn’t quote directly from the report, it contains details reportedly passed on by a senior Vatican source, which points to financial and sexual lobbies that have split the church.
The report allegedly stated that various lobbies in the Vatican were exerting influence on day-to-day-life in the Vatican, and routinely breaking two of the 10 commandments — “thou shalt not steal” and “thou shalt not commit adultery”. The former refers to the controversies about the Vatican Bank, one of the key aspects of the VatiLeaks Scandal.
The latter commandment is apparently a reference to a “gay lobby” that reportedly exerts influence within the Vatican, La Repubblica alleges. The report infers that this group were the subject of blackmail attempts, detailing an “external influence” from those with a “worldly nature”.
Reports of financial corruption and homosexuality in the Holy See are far from uncommon, of course — the Vatican became embroiled in a gay prostitution scandal in 2010, for example, which La Repubblica highlights. However, this report is the first sign that these controversies could have played a role in Benedict’s resignation.
Curiously, the Guardian’s John Hooper has a statement from the Vatican’s press spokesperson, Father Federico Lombardi, who doesn’t confirm or deny the report exists. However, Lombardi suggests the interpretations of the report are making a “a tension that is the opposite of what the pope and the church want”.
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