(CNN) – New controversy is rocking the vatican in benedict the 16th’s final days as pope. The pontiff came out of a pre-lenten retreat Saturday.
On February 11 Pope Benedict the sixteenth announced shocked the world that he was stepping down at the end of the month, too old and too tired to carry out his official duties.
But, a report first broken in the Rome Daily, La Repubblica, suggests his reason for resigning was far more explosive: Shock at the discovery of a network of gay priests at the Vatican blackmailed by a network of male prostitutes.
According to La Repubblica, the results of an investigation by three cardinals assigned to look into wrongdoing at the vatican were submitted to Pope Benedict on December 17 last year.
The newspaper says the report also suggests serious financial improprieties within the Vatican, amounting to violations of the sixth and seventh commandments; thou shall not steal and thou shall not commit adultery.
Benedict was so shocked by the investigation’s findings, the paper alleges, he decided to resign.
The Vatican has responded with uncharacteristically strong language, saying these quote – “Unverified, unverifiable or completely false news stories cause serious damage to persons and institutions.” and are an attempt to use “public opinion” to influence the Cardinal’s free will in the election of a new pope.
Cardinal Velasio de Paulis will take part in that election, the conclave, and urges caution above credulity.
We cannot say that things that are only guesswork or imagination are true, he told me. There is no proof, and these allegations only serve to create a climate of division that helps no one.
But CNN Vatican analyst John Sniffs some truth in the allegations.
To date none of us have actually seen this secret report delivered by the three Cardinals to Benedict the 16th so it’s impossible to say precisely what it contains. On the other hand the claim of this story that the cardinals looked in the possibility that there might be a network of gay clergy inside the vatican who are vulnerable to pressure. To me that passes the smell test.
There may indeed be something rotten in the state of the vatican.
Ben Wedeman, CNN, Rome