VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Pope Francis must end the scandal of Church secrets being leaked to newspapers, Austrian Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn said on Thursday, underlining one of the challenges facing the new Roman Catholic leader.
Pope Benedict, who stepped down last month, had to deal with the “Vatileaks” case in which his butler was convicted of stealing personal papal documents and passing them to the media.
The documents alleged corruption within the Vatican and infighting between senior prelates over the running of the Vatican bank and several projects in Italy.
Vienna archbishop Schoenborn, himself seen as a leading contender in the conclave that elected Francis on Wednesday, was shocked that details of confidential conversations between cardinals had been made public as they gathered at the Vatican to choose a successor to Benedict.
“There is really a massive need for reform,” Schoenborn said.
“We are very much hoping that Pope Francis succeeds in following up the steps initiated by Pope Benedict, completes them and creates order,” he told a news conference held in a Roman church.
“It’s a scandal that cardinals can meet in the most trusted room, where we have sworn an oath that we won’t pass anything on, and the next day our messages can be read word for word in the Italian newspapers,” he added.
Schoenborn was referring to reports in the Italian press of clashes in preliminary meetings before the conclave that saw Argentine Jorge Bergoglio selected as leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Roman Catholics on Wednesday .
Schoenborn said that most Vatican employees were loyal and committed but were being undermined by the work of a few.
“There are lots of very loyal, competent, very engaged colleagues who don’t deserve to see the Vatican’s image damaged by a few black sheep.”
“We hope for a good cleaning of the house,” he added.
Writing by Keith Weir; Editing by Tom Heneghan and Giles Elgood