BY NATASHA BARSOTTI — Italian daily newspaper La Repubblica has published a report saying that Pope Benedict XVI's recent resignation is linked in part to a report that there is a "network of gay prelates" in the Vatican, according to the UK's Guardian.
The Guardian, which notes that claims of a gay network in the Vatican are not new, cites the newspaper account as saying some Vatican officials were under the "external influence" of laymen with whom they had links of a "worldly nature," an indication that blackmail was involved.
Three cardinals are reported to have compiled the 300-page dossier containing the allegations that are part of an inquiry into the so-called Vatileaks matter involving the pope's butler, who was arrested and charged last May with stealing and leaking papal correspondence.
La Repubblica claims that the cardinals described a church divided by a number of "factions," including one in which individuals were "united by sexual orientation," The Independent adds.
The inquiry was headed by Cardinal Julián Herranz Casado and assisted by Cardinal Salvatore De Giorgi, a former archbishop of Palermo, and Cardinal Jozef Tomko, who once headed the Vatican's department for missionaries, The Guardian says.
Another Italian daily, Corriere della Sera, also referred to the cardinals' report after the pope announced his resignation earlier this month, saying its contents are "disturbing," The Guardian adds.
Vatican spokesperson Father Federico Lombardi is quoted as saying that "neither the cardinals' commission nor I will make comments to confirm or deny the things that are said about this matter. Let each one assume his or her own responsibilities. We shall not be following up on the observations that are made about this."