ROME, February 22, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Italian and international media is consumed today by a story, of Machiavellian complexity, published in the daily La Repubblica, alleging that among the reasons for Pope Benedict’s shocking decision to resign was the existence of an entrenched “gay network” orchestrating “sexual encounters” and shady financial machinations within the Vatican. 

Despite their extraordinary nature, few are questioning the claim that a group of three specially appointed senior curial cardinals have presented a 300 page, two-volume document to Pope Benedict detailing the workings and sexual activities of a network of curial officials.

La Repubblica said the document is the result of an investigation, ordered by Pope Benedict, into the Vatileaks scandals that seized public attention in Italy for months in early 2012. The document was allegedly presented to the pope December 17 and remains under strict “papal secret,” locked away by Pope Benedict in his own safe.

The paper, that has not named its sources, says the report cites not only an active homosexual subculture in the Vatican, but factional “struggles for power and money”. The paper quotes “a man very close” to the document’s authors, who described its contents, saying, “Everything revolves around the non-observance of the sixth and seventh commandment,” the Biblical prohibitions against sexual impurity and theft.

The document is said to identify one of the major divides in the Vatican’s internal culture as one of “sexual orientation”. “For the first time the word ‘homosexuality’ has been used, read aloud from a written text, in the apartment of Ratzinger… For the first time, although in Latin, the word blackmail, ‘influentiam,’ was used with His Holiness. ‘Impropriam influentiam,’” La Repubblica’s Concita de Gregorio writes.

The three cardinals – the paper names Spanish cardinal Julian Herranz, Italian cardinal Salvatore De Giorgi and Slovak cardinal Josef Tomko – revealed “a lobby network” identified with the various religious congregations - including the Salesians of Don Bosco and Jesuits – and “geographical origin,” described as “a network united according to sexual orientation.”

The paper quotes Cardinal De Giorgi directly, speaking about the pope’s decision to step down for the good of the Church. He said the decision was made as “a gesture of strength, not weakness”.

“He did it for the good of the Church. He gave a strong message to everyone in the exercise of authority or power who are considered irreplaceable. The Church is made up of men. The Pope has seen the problems and dealt with them in a particularly unusual, far-sighted initiative. He took upon himself the cross, in fact. But not decreased; on the contrary,” De Giorgi said.

The document, the paper said, included “dozens and dozens of interviews with bishops, cardinals and lay people. In Italy and abroad. Dozens and dozens of reports, reread and signed by the interviewees.” These interviews started with standard quesionnaires and were followed by personal interviews, the findings of which were “checked and cross-checked”.

The document is remaining secret, and will be kept by Pope Benedict who will place it directly into the hands of the new pope following the conclave. La Repubblica reports that Benedict will also meet with the three cardinals on Thursday, the last day of his pontificate.

The paper is claiming that it was with the reception of this report that Pope Benedict decided, the week before Christmas, to resign. They cited the comments by Pope Benedict in his homily for Ash Wednesday in which he decried “divisions in the ecclesial body that disfigure the face of the Church.”

But not everyone is convinced. La Stampa’s Marco Tossati wrote today that, given Cardinal Ratzinger’s 25 years in the very office most concerned with the doctrinal orthodoxy and sexual behaviour of priests and bishops, “it does not seem very plausible” that he has only now, with the publication of a single report, “suddenly decided to leave the Throne of Peter”.

The allegations have apparently caught the Vatican’s communications offices by surprise in a time of almost unprecedented turmoil for the Church’s leadership. At a hastily assembled press conference, Father Federico Lombardi would say only, “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.”

It was made public by the Vatican in March last year that Pope Benedict had appointed a commission of cardinals to investigate the so-called Vatileaks scandal. The investigation was carried out on two levels, with Vatican magistrates pursuing a criminal investigation and the Secretariat of State a more in-depth investigation into administrative corruption.

The result of the criminal investigation was the discovery that the pope’s butler, Paolo Gabriele, had stolen private papers related to internal matters. Some of these were passed to journalist Gianluigi Nuzzi, who later released a best-selling book detailing scandals and infighting within the Vatican.

Gabriele’s trial was made public and he was found guilty, held in an Italian prison for a short period and then personally pardoned by Pope Benedict. While this had appeared to be the end of the affair according to the newspapers, questions have not stopped circulating about the story behind the headlines.

It is widely believed in Italy that Gabriele, who was convicted by the Vatican’s court of illegal possession of documents of a head of state, had been chosen as a scapegoat and that the background of corruption had remained untouched. Gabriele stated that he stole the documents to protect Pope Benedict and fight an entrenched culture of “evil and corruption” among the Vatican’s hierarchy.

During his trial, Gabriele told the court, “What really shocked me was when I sat down for lunch with the Holy Father and sometimes the pope asked about things that he should have been informed on. It was then that I became firmly convinced of how easy it was to manipulate a person with such enormous powers.” He told Nuzzi in an interview that he was acting with “around 20 other people” in the Vatican, but later denied that he had been helped by anyone to remove the documents.

Certainly faithful Catholics fighting the homosexualist movement both within and without the Church have known for decades that a powerful homosexual subculture among some clergy and bishops took hold of the temporal affairs of the Church in the 1960s and after.

In his 2002 book “Goodbye Good Men,” US author and investigator Michael Rose described in detail the machinations of what came to be called the “lavender mafia” in the Catholic Church in the US. It documented the results of the changes made in the period immediately following the close of the Second Vatican Council in the practices of the Catholic institutions, particularly in seminaries and academia.

Rose and many others have pointed out that during this period, many of the seminaries abandoned their former rigor in screening prospective priests, allowing large numbers of morally unstable men to be put on track to ordination. This period also coincides closely with the time during which the great majority of the complaints of sexual abuse are recorded, nearly all by male clerics against adolescent boys and young men. At the same time, the hierarchy of the Church largely ceased emphasising the Church’s teachings on sexuality and the family.

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