Secret Vatican report could play a part in pope selection

(LA Times) Deep inside a safe in the papal apartment lies a top-secret report — for his holiness’ eyes only — that has become the most talked-about document in Rome.

Written by three elderly cardinals, the dossier delves into the most damaging security breach in the Vatican in living memory: the recent leak of private papers belonging to Pope Benedict XVI. The pontiff commissioned the senior prelates to find out how such a major lapse could have occurred and why.

Where the fingers point — already a matter of fevered conjecture in the Italian press — could become a factor in the selection of the next pope after Benedict’s retirement Thursday. Even though the 115 cardinals who will choose a new pontiff are not being allowed to read the confidential file, what they believe to be in it could color their decision.

Speculation over the dossier’s potentially explosive contents is just part of the politicking that is likely to go into the heavily veiled process of picking a new leader for the world’s 1.1 billion Roman Catholics.

That process in effect started earlier than usual because of Benedict’s surprise announcement of his intention to step down from office rather than let death remove him from it. The advance notice of a vacancy on the throne of St. Peter means that papal hopefuls, their supporters and detractors have already begun sizing one another up, plotting strategy and assessing chances.

As yet, no whisper campaigns or well-timed leaks to the news media have sprung up as the cardinals converge on Rome to be on hand for Benedict’s farewell. But if previous papal transitions are any guide, that could just be a matter of time. [More]


Los Angeles Times