February 26, 2013

Top British cleric quits under cloud

(Continued from page 1)

Keith Patrick O'Brien
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The leaked texts formed the backbone of a book portraying the Vatican as a hotbed of intrigue and Benedict as a leader undermined by his powerful second-in-command, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, once touted as a possible candidate for the papacy. Gabriele indicated that he had leaked the documents to protect the pope and expose "evil and corruption" in the Vatican.

"There is a growing feeling among the Catholic faithful that the best way to ensure that such undue pressure" on the cardinals is not exerted "is for more of the truth about the 'Vatileaks' affair, and the results of the investigation of the three cardinals into that affair, to come out," Robert Moynihan, editor of the conservative U.S. magazine Inside the Vatican, said in an emailed comment to subscribers.

The pope met Monday with the three cardinals who led the probe, thanking them for their work, the Vatican press office said in a statement. While the dossier will remain secret, the three cardinals may inform their counterparts on its contents before the conclave to help them "evaluate the situation and choose a new pope," Lombardi said at a briefing today.

Also Monday, the pope issued a decree to allow the cardinals to bring forward the start of the conclave, meaning the gathering could begin as soon as early March. Previously, it had been expected to kick off between March 10 and March 15.

Benedict will hold a general audience in St. Peter's Square on Feb. 27. The next day he will address cardinals who will elect his successor, before flying off by helicopter to his summer residence in the hills south of Rome. Two months later, he is due to return to live in a convent within the Vatican walls.

Speculation that a frail Benedict has struggled to stem intrigue has been fueled by his own words. In his final address on Feb. 23 to the bureaucracy that runs the Vatican, the pope lamented the "evil, suffering and corruption" that has defaced the church.


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