Meantime, the Vatican continues to struggle Thursday to stem the tide of leaks to Italian media, allegedly by cardinals gathered for private meetings ahead of their eagerly anticipated conclave to elect a new pope.
About 150 cardinals have been meeting daily this week at the Vatican to discuss the future of the Roman Catholic Church and to form opinions about possible candidates to succeed Pope Benedict XVI, who retired last week.
Despite the prelates’ sworn oath to keep details of the proceedings secret, Italian newspapers have provided daily leaked accounts of which cardinals have spoken and of the reluctance on the part of some to agree on a date for the conclave until they are told more about alleged infighting and mismanagement at the Vatican.
Despite the ban, on Thursday there was no sign of the leaks are drying up.
L.A. Cardinal Roger Mahony addressed the public from his Twitter account.
“Days of General Congregations reaching a conclusion. Setting of date for Conclave nearing. Mood of excitement prevails among Cardinals,” wrote Mahony, who was stripped of his public duties in January over his handling of sex abuse claims in Los Angeles. He still retains a vote in the conclave.
The Italian newspaper, La Stampa, alleged that a senior European cardinal had asked to know the names of two lay people reportedly named in a secret report commissioned by Benedict on corruption inside the Vatican. The request was turned down, the report said.
Asked on Thursday if the cardinals might consider further measures to stop the leaks, Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said, “We count on the responsibility and morality of people.”
Asked if Italian cardinals were fueling the leaks, Lombardi said, “I don’t accept that.”
Sister Mary Ann Walsh, a spokeswoman for the U.S. cardinals, drew a contrast between the media culture of Italy and the U.S.
“Our culture is to call a press conference and tell everyone,” she said. Italy, she added, “is a land of leaks.”
Also Thursday, Italian daily La Repubblica published an interview with an unnamed whistle-blower at the Vatican who claimed he had cooperated with Benedict’s butler, who was caught leaking embarrassing papal correspondence in 2012. The man said he was one of 20 such whistle-blowers at large within the Vatican and promised another leak of information about wrongdoing at the Holy See.
After a week in which cardinals have discussed reform of the Vatican’s bureaucracy, cardinals were briefed Thursday about Vatican finances and given an early look at financial reports ahead of their official release in July.