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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, February 22, 2013 - Volume 41 Issue 8
Fear and loathing in the Vatican
Section One
ALL STORIES
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Fear and loathing in the Vatican

'Gay lobby' drove the Pope out, Italian paper claims
by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Pope Benedict was prompted to resign by a secret report alleging that powerful factions within the Catholic Church - including a so-called 'Gay lobby' - were wielding 'inappropriate influence' in the Vatican, an Italian newspaper has reported.

The daily La Repubblica, the most-read newspaper in Italy, broke the story on February 21. According to the paper, when the Pope read a report on the 'Vatileaks' scandal - the release of secret papal documents in which his own butler was charged with theft and criminal conspiracy - he made up his mind to go ahead with his desire to quit.

The 'Vatileaks' memo, which the Pope reportedly received on December 17, was prepared by three prominent cardinals: Julian Herranz Casado of Spain, Jozef Tomko of Slovakia, and Salvatore De Giorgi of Italy.

BROKEN COMMANDMENTS
La Repubblica claims the cardinals' 300-page report warned the Pope of 'impropriam influentiam' on the part of various lobbies, some of them of a 'worldly nature' and reflecting an 'outside influence.' The cardinals reported that these factions within the Vatican were consistently breaking the sixth and seventh commandments, namely, 'Thou shalt not steal' and 'Thou shalt not commit adultery.'

The 'stealing' was a reference to persistent charges of corruption in the Vatican Bank (IOR), while the sexual offences referred to the influence of an alleged 'Gay lobby' within the Church. In this context, La Repubblica recalled Angelo Balducci, a prominent Papal Gentleman, or lay attendant of the Pope, who was accused three years ago of being a member of a Gay sex ring active within the Vatican and involving choirboys and seminarians.

In his homily at this year's Ash Wednesday celebration in St. Peter's Basilica, Benedict spoke of 'divisions' which 'besmirch' the face of the church.

And in a famous homily at the 2005 Via Crucis Easter celebrations in Rome, just days before the death of John Paul II, the then-Cardinal Ratzinger spoke of the 'filth' in the church, a comment interpreted by many as a reference to the worldwide clerical sex abuse scandal.

A HIDDEN AGENDA?
The three cardinals who prepared the report for the Pope are not innocent of factionalism themselves, however.

Herranz is the highest-ranking member of Opus Dei, a famously secretive organization dedicated to promoting traditionalist Catholicism. Tomko, a cardinal from the former Soviet bloc, was a close ally of Pope John Paul II in his campaign against Communist governments in Eastern Europe. De Giorgi was formerly general chaplain of Catholic Action, another traditionalist group.

La Repubblica, formerly associated with the Italian Communist Party but now regarded as moderately leftist, is noted for its relentless criticism of the Catholic Church.

The paper did not reveal the sources for its account of the secret 'Vatileaks' report, and it did not provide direct quotes from any part of the document. The paper said that its story is based on information received from an unnamed Vatican source.

A Vatican spokesman had no comment on the allegations when contacted by independent reporters.

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