VATICAN CITY — The Vatican lashed out Saturday at the media for what it said has been a run of defamatory and false reports before the conclave to elect Pope Benedict XVI’s successor, saying they were an attempt to influence the election.
A controversial article appearing Thursday in La Repubblica, Italy’s respected, leading daily newspaper, has linked the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI to the the contents of a secret dossier prepared for the pope by three cardinals who investigated the origins of the 2012 scandal over leaked Vatican documents.
The report suggested the revelations in the dossier included the discovery of blackmail, corruption and a network of gay prelates in the Vatican.
The newspaper said the cardinals described a number of factions, including one whose members were “united by sexual orientation.”
The report also stated alleged that some Vatican officials had been subjected to “external influence” from laymen with whom they had links of a “worldly nature.” La Repubblica said this was a clear reference to blackmail.
La Repubblica said the Pope, who had been mulling the decision to step down, came to that decision on Dec. 17, 2012, the same day he received the report.
On Saturday, a day before Benedict’s final Sunday blessing in St. Peter’s Square, the Vatican secretariat of state said, “It is deplorable that as we draw closer to the time of the beginning of the conclave … that there be a widespread distribution of often unverified, unverifiable or completely false news stories that cause serious damage to persons and institutions.”Benedict, in his final comments to the Curia on Saturday, lamented the “evil, suffering and corruption” that have defaced God’s creation. But he also thanked the Vatican bureaucrats for having helped him “bear the burden” of his ministry with their work, love and faith these past eight years.
The Vatican’s attack on the media echoed its response to previous scandals, where it has tended not to address the underlying content of accusations, but has diverted attention away.
During the 2010 explosion of sex abuse scandals, the Vatican accused the media of trying to attack the pope; during the 2012 leaks scandal, it accused the media of sensationalism without addressing the content of the leaked documents.