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article imageVatican denies rumors involving sex, money, gay priests

By Eko Armunanto     Feb 23, 2013 in World
The Vatican lashed out at the news media Saturday, addressing for the first time reports that Pope Benedict XVI's resignation was linked to an emerging scandal involving gay priests and high-priced blackmail.
The Vatican has attacked reports in the Italian media linking Pope Benedict XVI's resignation to the alleged discovery of a network of gay prelates as attempts to influence the cardinals in their choice of a new pontiff.
The Vatican secretariat of state said in a statement: "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".
The original story, which first appeared in the Rome newspaper La Repubblica on Thursday, alleges that Benedict's resignation is linked to the discovery of a network of gay priests in the Vatican who were being blackmailed by people outside the Holy See. The story claims the pope's decision to step down dates to Dec. 17, after he first saw a nearly 300-page dossier compiled by three cardinals that has been dubbed "Vatileaks" by the Italian press.
Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi hit back on Vatican Radio Saturday morning by questioning the motives and method of the newspapers that reported the story and implying that the media is seeking to influence the election process of the next pope, said
"There is no lack, in fact, of those who seek to profit from the moment of surprise and disorientation of the spiritually naive to sow confusion and to discredit the Church and its governance, making recourse to old tools, such as gossip, misinformation and sometimes slander, or exercising unacceptable pressures to condition the exercise of the voting duty on the part of one or another member of the College of Cardinals, who they consider to be objectionable for one reason or another," he said as reported by Paul Brandeis Raushenbush for Huffington Post.
Lombardi also questioned the moral authority of the media. "Those who present themselves as judges, making heavy moral judgments, do not, in truth, have any authority to do so," he said. "Those who consider money, sex and power before all else and are used to reading diverse realities from these perspectives, are unable to see anything else."
While speaking out strongly against the tone of the media coverage, Lombardi did not confirm or deny the existence of the 300 page report by the cardinals or its contents. He did not discuss the effect the report had on Pope Benedict's decision to resign.
CNN Senior Vatican Analyst John Allen, also a correspondent with the National Catholic Reporter, suggested in a piece written Friday that unsourced speculation about a shadowy "gay lobby" within the Vatican should be taken with a grain of salt.
But, he said, while he doesn't know for sure if the three cardinals did investigate networks based on sexual orientation, "frankly, it would be a little surprising if they hadn't" -- given past scandals that have become public concerning clergy involved in homosexual activities.
The CNN report also quoted Alled saying that the pope may well have been worn down by the cumulative impact of the various meltdowns over the last eight years. He said it's probably a stretch to draw a straight line between all of this and Benedict's resignation. For the most part, one has to take the pope at his word: He's stepping aside because he's old and tired, not because of any particular crisis.
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