Pope convenes cardinals over leak scandal
Pope Benedict XVI delivers his blessing during the Angelus prayer from his studio overlooking St. Peter's square at the Vatican, in this 2012 file photo. (AP / Riccardo De Luca)
The Associated Press
Published Saturday, June 23, 2012 1:48PM EDT
VATICAN CITY — Pope Benedict XVI convened a special meeting of cardinals Saturday for advice on how to deal with the Vatican's leaked documents scandal -- another sign of the damage the leaks have done to trust in the Holy See's governance.
Benedict was already scheduled to attend a regular meeting of the heads of Vatican offices Saturday morning. The Vatican press office said he added a second meeting later in the day with other cardinals in a bid to try to "restore a climate of serenity and trust" in the church.
The Vatican said over the coming days he will meet with still more cardinals gathering in Rome for a church feast day on Friday to "continue the dialogue with the people who share the responsibility of the church's governance with him."
The Vatican has been scrambling to contain the damage after the leak of hundreds of Vatican documents exposed corruption, political infighting and power struggles at the highest level of the Catholic Church. The pope's butler, Paolo Gabriele, is under arrest at the Vatican, accused of aggravated theft after the pope's own documents were found in his Vatican City apartment.
One Holy See investigation into the links is a criminal one headed by Vatican gendarmes; there is also an internal probe led by a commission of three cardinals tasked with getting to the bottom of the scandal.
Last weekend Benedict met with the cardinal's commission to learn details of some of the two dozen people they have questioned.
The meetings Saturday were another indication of the seriousness with which he has taken the scandal and the damage it has done to the trust that is supposed to form the basis of the Vatican's governance.
In its statement, the Vatican said the regularly scheduled meeting with department heads aimed at co-ordinating the Vatican's work was "today particularly important and urgent to show efficient witness to the union of spirit that animates the Curia."
The second meeting Saturday includes Vatican cardinals, and the archbishops of Sydney and the retired vicar of Rome -- two longtime papal advisers.
Benedict also moved to beef up a panel of cardinals tasked with scrutinizing the "organizational and economic problems of the Holy See," the Vatican said. He appointed to the panel three cardinals: Polycarp Pengo, an archbishop from Tanzania, in Africa; and two Asians, Telesphore Toppo, from India, and John Tong Hong, the Hong Kong prelate who was elevated to the rank of cardinal earlier this year by the pontiff.
All three are involved with the Holy See office that bankrolls missionary work abroad. Two years ago, Italian prosecutors began probing real estate transactions and other dealings of Naples' cardinal, an Italian prelate who formerly headed that office. The Italian authorities have been looking into an alleged web of kickbacks and favours, including purported sexual ones, involving businessmen, church hierarchy and public officials.
Toppo also serves on a cardinals' watchdog committee for the activities of the Vatican bank.