Pope quit after 'gay clergy network discovered in Vatican'
Italian newspaper claims Pope Benedict XVI's resignation is linked to an 'explosive' report
THE POPE took his decision to resign after receiving a "potentially explosive" report that revealed a network of high-ranking gay clergy inside the Vatican, an Italian newspaper has claimed.
According to La Repubblica, Pope Benedict XVI decided to quit on 17 December – the same day he received a dossier revealing a faction of gay prelates.
The Pope's spokesman has declined to confirm or deny the claims.
Commissioned by Benedict himself, the dossier is said to have been prepared by Cardinals Julian Herranz, Salvatore De Giorgi and Josef Tomko, the former chief of the Vatican's secret services.
The three cardinals were delegated to look into the so-called 'Vatileaks' affair, after the Pope's butler, Paolo Gabriele, was arrested and charged last May with stealing and leaking papal correspondence that depicted the Vatican as a seething hotbed of intrigue and infighting.
La Repubblica said the cardinals described a number of factions, including one whose members were "united by sexual orientation". It also suggested some high-ranking members of the clergy were blackmailed by laymen with whom they entertain relationships of a "worldly nature".
The paper quoted an unnamed source - said to be close to the report's authors - as saying: "Everything revolves around the non-observance of the sixth and seventh commandments."
The seventh commandment forbids theft, while the sixth forbids adultery, but is linked in Catholic doctrine to the proscribing of homosexual acts, The Guardian explains.
La Repubblica also mentioned a gay network which organised sexual encounters in villas and saunas in Rome as well as in the Vatican rooms.
The dossier comprising "two volumes of almost 300 pages – bound in red" has reportedly been consigned to a safe in the papal apartments and will be delivered to the Pope's successor upon his election.
Pope Benedict, who will stand down at the end of February, is the first pope to resign voluntarily since Celestine V more than seven centuries ago.