By Doug Stanglin, USA TODAY
The Italian media is reporting that Pope Benedict XVI resigned
after receiving the results of an internal investigation, delivered in a
300-page, two-volume dossier, that laid bare a sordid tale of
blackmail, corruption and gay sex at the Vatican.
The respected Italian newspaper La Repubblica
reported Friday that the report stamped "Pontifical Secret," contained
"an exact map of the mischief and the bad fish" inside the Holy See.
The newspaper said the findings of the nine-month investigation,
headed by Spanish cardinal, Julian Herranz , with the assistance of
Cardinal Salvatore De Giorgi, former archbishop of Palermo, and Slovak
cardinal Jozef Tomko, was delivered to the pope on Dec. 17, 2012.
"It was on that day, with those papers on his desk, that Benedict
XVI took the decision he had mulled over for so long,'' the newspaper
La Repubblica said the panel drew upon "dozens and
dozens" of interviews with bishops, cardinals and lay people. It said
the pope was kept apprised of the investigation in weekly meetings from
April until December. The final, bound in red leather, is being kept in a
safe in the pope's Vatican quarters, the newspaper said.
A similar story was carried by Panorama, a conservative weekly.
"What's coming out is a very detailed X-ray of the Roman Curia that
does not spare even the closest collaborators of the pope," respected
Vatican expert Ignazio Ingrao writes in Panorama. "The pope was
no stranger to the intrigues, but he probably did not know that under
his pontificate there was such a complex network and such intricate
chains of personal interests and unmentionable relationships."
A Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, has refused to comment on the reports.
"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,'' Lombardi said, according to the German news agency Deutsche Presse-Agentur.
In announcing his resignation Feb. 11, Benedict said that he no
longer had the "strength of mind and body" to carry on. A conclave will
select a new pope next month.
Lombardi has indicated that Benedict
would meet with the three cardinals before stepping down Feb. 28, in
one of his final private audiences.
La Repubblica reported
that the pope would personally hand the confidential files to his
successor, with the hope he will be ''strong, young and holy'' enough to
take the necessary action.
The investigation was triggered last
May when the pope's butler, Paolo Gabriele, was arrested and charged
with having stolen and leaked papal correspondence that depicted the
Vatican as a hotbed of intrigue.
The papers were published in a blockbuster book. The butler was convicted in October of aggravated theft, and later pardoned.
The three-man panel, according to La Repubblica,
discovered an underground gay network whose members organized sexual
meetings in several locations, including a villa outside Rome, a sauna
in Rome's Cuarto Miligo distirct and even in a beauty salon inside the
The gatherings, in turn, left them open to blackmail from
people outside the Vatican, the report said, according to the
La Repubblica quoted an unidentified man
described as ''very close'' to the authors of the dossier as saying it
contained information about violations of the sixth and seventh
commandments, which forbid adultery and stealing.
The British newspaper, The Guardian, notes that the sixth commandment also "is linked in Catholic doctrine to the proscribing of homosexual acts."
The U.S. website, The Daily Beast, reports that investigative journalist Carmello Abbate went undercover with a hidden camera in 2010 in Rome to produce an expose called Good Nights Out for Gay Priests.
scandal has erupted as the pope is clearing the decks of his
pontificate, tweaking the rules of the conclave, finessing the religious
rites used to launch the next papacy and making some eyebrow-raising
final appointments before he retires next week.
The Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano
said in editions published late Friday that Benedict had signed a
decree earlier in the week making some changes to the papal installation
Mass, separating out the actual rite of installation from the liturgy
He is also studying the text of a separate document governing the
rules of the conclave, though it's not known if it will address the
thorny issue of whether the election can begin earlier than March 15, by
some interpretations the earliest the vote can start under the current
And on Friday, the Vatican announced Benedict had
transferred a top official in the secretariat of state, Monsignor Ettore
Balestrero, to Colombia.
Some of the documents leaked in the
midst of the "Vatileaks" scandal concerned differences of opinion about
the level of financial transparency the Holy See should provide about
the bank, the Institute for Religious Works. However, Balestrero himself
wasn't named in any significant way in the leaks.
Balestrero's transfer had been months in the works, was a clear
promotion and had nothing to do with what the Vatican considers baseless