Thursday 23 November 2017

'Media and devil' blamed by Vatican for scandals

Pope Benedict. Photo: Getty Images
Pope Benedict. Photo: Getty Images

Nicole Winfield in Vatican City

A TOP Vatican official yesterday blamed the media -- and the devil -- for fuelling the scandal over leaked Vatican documents.

Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone told an Italian Catholic weekly that journalists reporting on the leaks scandal are "pretending to be Dan Brown ... inventing stories and replaying legends". The reference to Mr Brown is particularly acute -- he wrote 'The Da Vinci Code' and 'Angels and Demons' the bestselling fictional accounts of power struggles and scandals inside the Catholic Church.

The Vatican has been on the defensive ever since sensitive documents alleging corruption and exposing power struggles began appearing in the Italian media in January. A recent book containing dozens of documents from Pope Benedict XVI's own desk has compounded what many see as a plot to undermine Cardinal Bertone's authority.

Several top Vatican officials have castigated the media for fueling the scandal and, to be sure, Italian newspapers in particular have been on a feeding frenzy reporting details of the Vatican's investigation into the leaks that the Vatican spokesman routinely shoots down.

Pope Benedict himself has complained about media reports that "went well beyond the facts, offering an image of the Holy See that doesn't correspond to reality".

But the cardinal's interview with 'Famiglia Cristiana' took the complaints to a new level, blasting the "vehemence" of some Italian newspapers in seeking to create divisions between the Pope and his collaborators where there weren't any.

"The truth is that there's a will to create division that comes from the devil," he said. The interview is due on newsstands on Thursday but was made available to journalists yesterday.


Cardinal Bertone admitted the Holy See isn't perfect and that "none of us wants to hide the church's shadows and defects". But he said the Italian media in particular had gone too far, violating the privacy rights of both the Pope and the people who correspond with him by publishing leaked documents.

Contrary to media reports depicting factions opposed to him within the Vatican bureaucracy, the cardinal said he enjoys "an extraordinary climate of communion" with his colleagues.

"Personally, I don't sense any sign of cardinals or church personalities being involved in any conquest of some phantom power," he said.

So far only one person has been arrested in the case: the Pope's butler, Paolo Gabriele, a 46-year-old father of three who was arrested on May 23 and accused of aggravated theft after reams of papal documents were found in his Vatican City apartment.

The Vatican spokesman, the Rev Federico Lombardi, said yesterday that a commission of cardinals investigating the leaks scandal had so far interrogated 23 people, including Mr Gabriele as well as other lay and clergy, Vatican superiors and employees. The commission members reported back to the Pope on Saturday about their investigation and are continuing their work.

Mr Gabriele continues to be held inside the Vatican police barracks accused of aggravated theft, though he was allowed out on Sunday as usual to attend Mass with his family.

The attempt by the Vatican to blame the media for the leaks is to some degree a repeat of 2010, when several Vatican officials blamed journalists for fueling the sex abuse scandal that had reignited that year.

Thousands of people came forward, mostly in Europe, with reports that priests had raped and molested them when they were children.

Irish Independent

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