May 20, 2013
Vatican accuses Italian media of false reports ahead of conclave
The Vatican today accused the Italian media of spreading "false and damaging" reports in what it condemned as a deplorable attempt to influence cardinals who will meet in a secret conclave next month to elect a new pope.
Since Pope Benedict announced his resignation on February 11, Italian newspapers have been full of rumours about conspiracies, secret reports and lobbies in the Vatican that they say pushed the pope to abdicate.
"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," a Vatican statement said.
The Italian reports have painted an unflattering picture of the Vatican's central administration, known as the Curia, depicting it as being full of prelates more concerned with their careers than serving the Church or the pope.
Some Church officials, speaking privately, have said foreign cardinals coming to Rome to choose the next pope have been alarmed over reports of corruption and might be inclined to elect someone not connected with the Curia, which is predominantly Italian.
The Vatican statement said the Italian media reports were an attempt to influence the outcome of the conclave through negative public opinion much like states and kings tried to influence papal elections centuries ago.
The pope has announced that he will step down on February 28, becoming the first pontiff to abdicate in some six centuries.
The 85-year-old Benedict said his failing health no longer enabled him to run the 1.2-billion-member Roman Catholic Church as he would like.