Italian media claims Pope Benedict XVI resignation has been linked to a secret dossier from three cardinals claiming a “gay network” inside the Vatican.
The cardinals uncovered an underground network of senior clergy who have organized gay homosexual parties and faced blackmail, according to newspaper La Repubblica.
The paper claims the explosive allegations were made in a report into the so-called “Vatileaks” scandal which was presented to Pope Benedict on or around December 17.
Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi has refused to confirm or deny the details of the report which came in two volumes, “hard-bound in red” with the title “pontifical secret”.
The dossier was compiled by Spanish cardinal, Julián Herranz; Cardinal Salvatore De Giorgi, a former archbishop of Palermo; and the Slovak cardinal Jozef Tomko.
The cardinals launched the probe after Pope Benedict’s butler, Paolo Gabriele, was arrested and charged with stealing and leaking papal correspondence revealing how the Vatican was a centre of intrigue and infighting.
Now La Repubblica claims the Pope quit because could not face the repercussions of dealing with the 300-page dossier – the first Pontiff to resign in 600 years.
The paper says that the investigation alleges a gay lobby exists within the Church, and has some sort of control on the careers of those in the Vatican.
The report is quoted as saying: “The cardinals were said to have uncovered an underground gay network, whose members organize sexual meetings in several venues in Rome and Vatican City, leaving them prone to blackmail.
“They included a villa outside the Italian capital, a sauna in a Rome suburb, a beauty parlor in the centre, and a former university residence that was in use by a provincial Italian archbishop.”
La Repubblica says that the cardinals described a number of “factions” in their report, including one in which individuals were “united by sexual orientation”.
The newspaper also alleges the dossier states that members of this group were blackmailed by laymen with whom they entertain relationships of a “worldly nature”.
La Repubblica quoted an unnamed source said to be close to the report’s authors: “Everything revolves around the non-observance of the sixth and seventh commandments.”
The seventh commandment forbids theft, while the sixth forbids adultery, but is linked in Catholic doctrine to the proscribing of homosexual acts, explained the Guardian.
Father Federico Lombardi said in a statement: “Neither the cardinals’ commission nor I will make comments to confirm or deny the things that are said about this matter.
“Let each one assume his or her own responsibilities. We shall not be following up on the observations that are made about this.”
Federico Lombardi has indicated that Pope Benedict would meet with the three cardinals before stepping down on February 28, in one of his final private audiences.
Pope Benedict announced his decision earlier this month saying he simply no longer has the “strength of mind and body” to carry on.
The dossier will stay in a secret papal safe and delivered to Pope Benedict’s successor when the Pontiff leaves office, claims La Repubblica.
In 2010, Nigerian clergyman Ghinedu Ehiem, who was part of one of the Vatican’s prestigious choirs, was dismissed after police wiretaps found him negotiating for male prostitutes.
In 2007, a senior Vatican official was suspended after he was filmed in a television “sting” while apparently making sexual overtures to a younger man.
Italian newspapers have been rife for days with unsourced reports about the contents of the dossier that three cardinals prepared for Pope Benedict after investigating the origins of the leaks.
Now Monsignor Ettore Balestrero, a senior member of the Vatican’s secretariat of state, has been sent 6,000 miles away to Colombia in South America as the fallout continues.
Father Federico Lombardi said Ettore Balestrero’s transfer had been months in the works, was a clear promotion and had nothing to do with what the Vatican considers baseless reporting.
Given the rivalries, turf battles and allegations of corruption exposed by the leaks themselves, there is some speculation that cardinals entering the conclave might want to know the contents of the dossier before choosing a new pope.