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The Vatican scolded the Italian media in a statement on Saturday for a their publication of a series of defamatory comments and conspiracy theories regarding Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation announced earlier this month.
As the Church prepares to hold the conclave to elect a new pope, the Vatican fears that these reports will influence the cardinals’ decision to elect a pope with ties to the Vatican central administration, the Curia, Reuters reported.
“It is deplorable that, as we draw closer to the time of the beginning of the conclave ... that there be a widespread distribution of often unverified, unverifiable or completely false news stories that cause serious damage to persons and institutions,” the statement read.
According to The Guardian, the Vatican’s statement specifically referred to media speculation regarding an alleged group of gay prelates. La Repubblica, the Italian newspaper responsible for these claims, said that the Pope had decided to resign back in December when this alleged network, “united by sexual orientation” with aims to influence cardinals through blackmail, was discovered.
Despite media allegations, the pope has officially explained his resignation, stating that his failing health has become an extreme impediment to his successful leadership and management of the 1.2 billion-member Roman Catholic Church. The pope, 85, will end his tenure on Feb. 28. Cardinals from around the world are already arriving in the Vatican to elect the new pope.