The papal conclave — the election by which a new Catholic pope is chosen — is by design of the most secretive events in the world.
The cardinals are locked inside the Sistine Chapel for a series of votes, supposedly cut off from the outside world (texts and tweets are completely banned). Before they go inside, the chapel is swept for bugs and jamming devices are set up to knock out phone signals. The idea is to preserve the ancient mystery of the event by preventing leaks, and it seems to work — most of the time.
According to a new report in Italian magazine Panorama, however, that didn’t stop the NSA.
The report states that the American agency, recently embroiled in a number of scandals, is believed to have been intercepting calls within the Vatican before and during the Conclave. There are also suspicions that Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, who would later be chosen as Pope Francis, was under surveillance for a number of years.
Panorama reports that the intercepted calls were put under four categories; Leadership intentions, threats to financial system, foreign policy objectives, and human rights.
The secretive world of the Vatican has come under scrutiny before, with leaked documents and tapped phone-calls causing a number of scandals. However, the Catholic Church seems to be taking this latest allegation in its stride.
“We don’t know anything about this matter and in any case, we have no worries about it,” Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Holy See Press Office, said in a statement today.
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