Cardinals want to be briefed on secret report

Mon Mar 4, 2013 12:22pm EST
 
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By Philip Pullella

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Catholic cardinals in a closed-door meeting ahead of the election of a new pontiff want to be briefed on a secret report into leaks about alleged corruption and mismanagement in the Vatican, a senior source said on Monday.

More than 140 cardinals began preliminary meetings to sketch a profile for the next pope following the shock abdication of Pope Benedict last month and to ponder who among them might be best to lead a church beset by crises.

The meetings, called "general congregations," are open to cardinals regardless of age, although only those under 80 will later enter a conclave to elect a pope from among themselves.

The source, a prelate over 80 who was present at Monday's meetings, said the contents of the report came up during the morning session but declined to say if the requests to be briefed were made in the formal sessions or informal coffee break discussions or both.

"They want to be briefed on the report," said the cardinal, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. "But it is a very long report and technically it is secret".

The report was prepared for Benedict, who is now "Pope Emeritus," by three elderly cardinals who investigated the so-called "Vatileaks" scandal last year. The three are attending the preliminary meetings but will not enter the conclave.

Paolo Gabriele, the pope's butler, was convicted of stealing personal papal documents and leaking them to the media. The documents alleged corruption and infighting over the running of its bank. Gabriele was jailed and later pardoned by Benedict.

Benedict decided to make the report available only to his successor but one Vatican official said the three elderly cardinals who wrote it could "use their discernment to give any necessary guidance" to fellow cardinals without violating their pact of secrecy about its specific contents.   Continued...

 
Cardinals attends a meeting at the Synod Hall in the Vatican March 4, 2013. Preparations for electing Roman Catholicism's new leader begin in earnest on Monday as the College of Cardinals opens daily talks to sketch an identikit for the next pope and ponder who among them might fit it. REUTERS/Osservatore Romano