Saturday 24 February 2018

Fresh 'Vatileaks' in wake of arrest mars papal visit

Colleen Barry in Milan

Pope Benedict XVI celebrated an open-air Mass for one million cheering faithful yesterday, capping a weekend visit to Milan viewed as a respite from a Vatican scandal, but fresh leaks of Holy See documents have only fuelled the intrigue.

If the new leaks are authentic, the development could indicate that the recent arrest of the Pope's butler might not have stemmed the scandal as top Holy See officials had hoped.

The three-day visit to Milan during a weekend of Catholic events meant to boost support for families was also an opportunity for the 85-year-old pontiff to show he is still firmly at the helm of his church.

But the leaks continued even during his trip, with the daily 'La Repubblica' yesterday publishing documents it said it received despite the butler's arrest.

One of the letters was a high prelate's complaint that he had not been consulted on the approval of a liturgy for a Catholic group in Spain, while two others reportedly bear the signature of the pope's secretary.

Vatican spokesman Rev Federico Lombardi said he was neither surprised nor concerned by the documents' release. He declined to comment on the contents.

"We don't expect that the documents published so far are the last, and I wouldn't be surprised if more are published in the coming days," he told reporters.

"It is clear that whoever is working with the quantity of documents is playing with them, and the strategy is not to release them all at once and let us be in peace."

Yesterday, Pope Benedict announced he hoped to go to Philadelphia in 2015 for a similar pro-family event. Vatican officials said despite his looking forward to the event, it was too early to confirm his attendance. His calendar is confirmed just a few months in advance.

His three-day stay in Milan, which included taking in a concert of Beethoven's Ninth at La Scala, had been viewed as a welcome break from the "Vatileaks" scandal. Benedict appeared relaxed and at ease throughout the visit.

Irish Independent

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