Cardinals want more 'Vatileaks' details

Pope Benedict XVI leaves after his final general audience before his retirement, in St. Peter square at the Vatican, February 27, 2013. UPI/Stefano Spanziani
Pope Benedict XVI leaves after his final general audience before his retirement, in St. Peter square at the Vatican, February 27, 2013. UPI/Stefano Spanziani | License Photo

VATICAN CITY, March 5 (UPI) -- Roman Catholic cardinals say they want to know more about the "Vatileaks" scandal, even though Benedict XVI said only the next pope would be shown the report.

"If there was a commission and they had an opinion, we want to know," Brazilian Cardinal Geraldo Majella Agnelo told Brazilian newspaper Folha de S. Paulo as 142 cardinals -- including those age 80 or older, who cannot vote for the next pope -- held a pre-conclave Vatican meeting to get to know each other better, discuss the state of the papacy and determine when to start the papal conclave to elect a new pope, which could be as soon as next week.


The five Brazilian cardinals participating in the conclave were among the first to press for more information about the leaks-affair report compiled by three cardinals -- a detailed dossier Benedict decided last week would be shown only the next pope, not to the cardinals entering the conclave to choose him.


Brazilian Cardinal Raymundo Damasceno Assis said he expected to see at least a summary of the findings before voting on Benedict's successor.

"It is important to know what is said in these papers. Up to now, all I know is from what the news is saying," he said.

South African Cardinal Wilfrid Napier was among other cardinals calling for more information on the scandal, which he called a "profound crisis."

Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi told reporters Monday it was understandable some cardinals would want to know more about the report.

"Certainly, there can be various members of the College of Cardinals who want information they feel is useful or pertinent to the situation of the Curia," he said.

The Roman Curia is the Vatican's administrative apparatus and the central governing body of the entire Catholic Church, together with the pope.

U.S. Cardinal Francis George, archbishop of Chicago, separately told reporters, "I would imagine that as we move along there will be questioning of cardinals involved in the governing of the Curia to see what they think has to be changed, and in that context anything can come up."

But whatever comes up is widely expected to remain secret.


Each cardinal Monday took an oath pledging to honor "rigorous secrecy with regard to all matters in any way related to the election of the Roman pontiff," Lombardi said.

The Vatileaks scandal, which erupted last year, involved leaked Vatican documents purporting to expose alleged high-level corruption. The pope's butler was convicted of stealing the papers and leaking them to a journalist. He later received a papal pardon.

The internal Vatican investigation allegedly uncovered a network of gay prelates in the Vatican, some of whom, the report said, were blackmailed by outsiders, Italian newspaper La Repubblica reported two weeks ago.

Some news reports, including by The New York Times, suggested the spiraling scandal contributed to Benedict's resignation Thursday. The Times cited Vatican experts as saying only a new, more energetic pope could lead the church globally and clean house inside the Vatican hierarchy.

The Vatican acknowledged Thursday it ordered wiretaps on the phones of some Vatican officials as part of the leaks investigation.

Lombardi said Vatican magistrates "might have authorized some wiretaps or some checks," but nothing on a significant scale.

He dismissed the idea that "an investigation that creates an atmosphere of fear and mistrust" would now affect the papal conclave.


That "has no foundation in reality," he said.

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