Pope's decision 'partly prompted' by claims over influence of gay lobby
St Peter's Basilica in the Vatican. Photograph: Max Rossi/Reuters
Italian daily La Repubblica has sensationally claims that Pope Benedict's resignation was at least partly prompted by an internal report prepared by three senior cardinals, alleging that various lobbies, including a gay lobby, exercise an "inappropriate influence" in internal Holy See affairs.
The newspaper suggests that such was Benedict’s dismay when presented with the details of the report on December 17th that it hardened his long-meditated decision to resign. The internal report prepared by Cardinals Julian Herranz, Josef Tomko and Salvatore De Giorgi had been commissioned by Benedict himself.
He had ordered it in response to the so-called Vatileaks scandal which culminated with the arrest and subsequent conviction last autumn of the Pope's butler, Paolo Gabriele, found guilty of having stolen confidential documents from the papal apartment.
In the article, it is claimed that the cardinals reported that various lobbies within the Holy See were consistently breaking the sixth and seventh commandments, namely "thou shalt not steal" and "thou shalt not commit adultery".
The "stealing" was in particular related to the Vatican Bank, IOR, whilst the sexual offences were related to the influence of an active gay lobby within the Vatican.
Last week, when presiding over the Ash Wednesday celebrations in St. Peter's Basilica, Pope Benedict spoke of "divisions" which "besmirch" the face of the church. In a famous homily at the 2005 Via Crucis Easter celebrations in Rome, just days before the death of John Paul II, the then Cardinal Ratzinger had spoken of the "filth" in the church, a comment interpreted by many as a reference to the worldwide clerical sex abuse scandal.
However, La Repubblica claims the cardinals' 300 page report speaks of "Impropriam Influentiam" on the part of various lobbies, some of them of a "worldly nature", reflecting an "outside influence". The Rome daily recalls the figure of papal gentleman, Angelo Balducci, accused three years ago of being a member of a gay ring active within the Vatican and involving choristers and seminarians.
The paper does not explain the source of its information on the cardinals report nor does it provide a direct quotation from any part of the report. Rather it claims that its findings are based on information received from an unnamed Vatican source.
A Vatican spokesman had no comment to make on the allegations.