Photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP
The College of Cardinals has imposed a media blackout after reports of secret talks appeared in Italian newspapers, according to Jason Horowitz of the Washington Post.The blackout has already resulted in a daily press conference by American Cardinals being cancelled.
Catholic Cardinals are currently in Rome preparing for comes the upcoming papal conclave, a meeting that will eventually result in a new Pope. Pope Benedict’s unexpected resignation last month has been mired in controversy, and the selection process for the new Pope is taking place in an unusual atmosphere of scandal.
Andrea Tornielli, a veteran Vatican reporter for La Stampa, wrote one article that may have caused the blackout. An English language version of the article can be seen on La Stampa’s Vatican Insider website.
According to Tornielli, cardinals have been asking for more information on the VatiLeaks affair, a scandal that broke in 2011 after Pope Benedict’s butler began leaking documents. The leaked documents showed internal fighting within the Vatican, and allegations of large-scale corruption by the Vatican Bank.
Tornielli also reports that Cardinals have asked for a reform of the Curia, the internal bureaucracy of the Catholic Church. Tornielli’s article says the Cardinals requested “better communication between the Pope and his “ministers”, improved coordination between dicasteries and stronger links between the central Church in Rome and the local Churches”.
La Repubblica also published an interview with German Cardinal Walter Kasper in which he appeared to support these reforms. He told the newspaper, “I think the Curia in general, beyond whatever emerges from VatiLeaks, needs to be revolutionised. And as well as the word reform, there must be a second: transparency”.
The La Stampa report also notes Evangelisation had been a “recurring theme” of the meetings.
Horowitz writes that the media blackout may be more than just a clampdown after leaks.
The American Catholic Church had been giving regular press conferences to journalists, apparently hoping to get around the Church’s strict vows of secrecy (all cardinals taking part in the pre-conclave meetings are technically bound to secrecy on pain of excommunication).
Importantly, the American Cardinals had let it be known they favoured a longer, drawn out conclave, which may have angered some Italian Cardinals who perhaps have the most to gain from a short conclave. Italian media had reported that earlier meetings had seen “sparks” flying over the disagreement.
Sister Mary Ann Walsh, director of media relations for the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, confirmed today have been asked to not do interviews, and the daily press conferences from US Cardinals were to be cancelled.
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