The Vatican’s chief spokesperson has slammed Italian media reports that claim Pope Benedict XVI’s shock resignation on February 11 is linked to allegations of corruption instead of the official reason of advanced age.
Father Federico Lombardi made the comments in an editorial on the Vatican radio website on Saturday.
In addition to accusing the media of spreading “misinformation,” Lombardi also said the reports were exerting “unacceptable pressure to condition the vote of one or other member of the college of cardinals” in next month’s conclave to elect Pope Benedict XVI’s successor.
According to BBC News, Lombardi’s comments are thought to be a response to a report in one of Italy’s biggest newspapers La Repubblica which said the 85-year-old Pope had resigned after being presented with a dossier detailing the blackmailing of a network of senior Vatican priests who were “united by sexual orientation.”
“There are people who are trying to take advantage of this moment of surprise and disorientation of weak spirits to sow confusion and discredit the Church and its government.”
“Whoever has money, sex and power at the forefront of their mind sees the world through these parameters and cannot see beyond, even when looking at the Church.”
“Their view cannot look to the heights or go in-depth to understand the spiritual dimensions and motivations of existence.”
“The result is a profoundly unjust description of the Church and many of its people. We want this to be a time of sincere reflection as tradition and the laws of the Church indicate.”
Agence France-Presse (AFP) added that the Vatican spokesman’s comments are also a reference to corruption and conspiracy allegations in the media that followed last year’s investigation by three Pope-appointed, retired cardinals into a series of leaks of confidential papal documents that became known as Vatileaks.
That investigation — paralleled by a police investigation — resulted in the Pope’s former butler Paolo Gabriele being convicted and later pardoned for stealing documents from his office.
The three cardinals submitted their secret report to Pope Benedict XVI only, but Italian media have reported that the trio will share their conclusions with the cardinal who will elect the next pope, ahead of his formal resignation next week, AFP notes.