Pope Benedict XVI’s announcement that he will step down from his papal duties on Feb. 28 has spurred all sorts of rumors and conspiracy theories. In the latest conspiracy theory twist, the Vatican is denying Italian newspaper reports that the pope assigned a senior official to a Latin America post to prevent any disclosure of papal secrets, according to a Feb. 23 Reuters Report.
Some of the reports suggest that the pope’s decision to promote Monsignor Ettore Balestrero to be the Vatican’s new ambassador to Colombia is fueled by sinister motives. Italian paper Repubblica has issued a number of stories referring to information in a secret report prepared for the pope by three cardinals who investigated the alleged Vatileaks scandal last year, in which the pope’s butler Paolo Gabrielle was convicted of stealing and leaking personal papal documents to the media. The scandalous documents involved corruption and fighting within the Vatican. The Italian media claim Balestrero was somewhat involved in the scandal.
The Vatican has denied these persistent reports, calling them “absurd.” The Vatican spokesman, Father Federico Lombardi, said the suggestion that the pope had made the appointment to get Balestrero out of the Vatican was “absurd, totally without foundation.” According to Lombardi, Balestrero’s appointment was decided weeks ago, but the Vatican waited for the Colombian government’s official agreement before making its announcement.
With regard to the Vatileaks matter, according to the Sydney Morning Herald, spokesman Lombardi said he refused “run after fantasies and opinions” and warned reporters, “'Don't expect comments or rebuttals of what is being said on this issue.”
“Neither the cardinals' commission nor I will make comments to confirm or deny the things that are said about this matter. Let each one assume his or her own responsibilities. We shall not be following up on the observations that are made about this,” Father Lombardi said.
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