Keeping Secrets

by Richard Lehrberger
March 8, 2013

These days, the Third Secret of Fatima is not the only secret being kept behind the walls of Vatican City. On March 4, 2013, the news agency Reuters reported that the VatiLeaks dossier (the documented outcome of a recent investigation by three Cardinals into the VatiLeaks scandal) will be made available only to the next Pope, a decision that the now Emeritus Benedict XVI had reached prior to his abdication. (See: “Cardinals want to be briefed on secret report”.)

Therefore, the Cardinals whose responsibility it is to elect a new Pontiff will not be permitted access to the report that allegedly details the high-level corruption that is now publicly known to exist within the Vatican (as a result of the VatiLeaks scandal). In other words, the three Cardinals' findings will be kept secret from the very people who, inarguably, need access to that information the most — the Cardinal-electors themselves.

There is one caveat, however. According to the same Reuters article, “one Vatican official said the three elderly Cardinals who wrote it [the VatiLeaks report] could ‘use their discernment to give any necessary guidance’ to fellow Cardinals without violating their pact of secrecy about its specific contents.” It is noteworthy that these same three Cardinals are not allowed to participate in the upcoming conclave to elect Benedict’s successor, because they do not meet the “under 80” age requirement set forth by Pope Paul VI in 1970. Their “guidance” is thus relegated to the period of the general congregations that are now taking place before the conclave begins.

Nevertheless, the Cardinals are looking for facts, not necessarily guidance. An anonymous Cardinal over 80 told Reuters that “they,” meaning the Cardinals in attendance at the first General Congregation on Monday, March 4, “want to be briefed on the [VatiLeaks] report.”1 The Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi also addressed the desire of the Cardinals to know the essential information in the dossier, although he did so rather cautiously and with political acumen: “Certainly, there can be various members of the college of cardinals who want information they feel is useful or pertinent to the situation of the curia.” (Reuters)

On Tuesday, March 5, Catholic News Agency quoted Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, the Archbishop of Galveston-Houston (Texas), who matter-of-factly stated his opinion about the VatiLeaks report: “In general, obviously, we want to know as much as we can regarding the governance of the Church.”2 (See: “Cardinals will be informed of Vatileaks background”.)

More evidence that the Cardinals are seeking the facts contained in the dossier emerged on March 7 when Vatican journalist Andrea Tornielli wrote the following for Vatican Insider: “In a speech given during yesterday's [March 6] General Congregation, a foreign cardinal asked for some information on two individuals who are allegedly mentioned in the VatiLeaks scandal dossier prepared by the three-man investigation commission.” (See: “Two lay people involved in Vatileaks scandal: Cardinals want their names”.)

“But,” Tornielli continues, “the Camerlengo, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, and the Dean of the College of Cardinals, Angelo Sodano, sent an internal communiqué urging those present not to ‘name names’ if they are not ‘certain’, as they could risk fomenting a climate of suspicion and resentment.”

It is evident from the foregoing articles that the Cardinals are concerned about their role as electors in the upcoming papal conclave. In good conscience, how can they elect a new Pope without knowing what is sealed inside the VatiLeaks dossier? Without that certain knowledge, the electors may unwittingly install one from among themselves whose maneuverings are announced in the very report that is being kept secret from them. This is a reasonable and obvious deduction even to an outsider. Surely this concern is among the foremost in their minds.


1. “But,” the prelate insisted, “it is a very long report and technically it is secret.”

2. Catholic News Agency also cited Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley of Boston, who was seated next to DiNardo when the Texas Archbishop had spoken his thoughts. “The cardinals feel confident that we will get all the information [on VatiLeaks] that we need for our deliberation,” O’Malley said, though he then backpedaled and clarified his remark: “It does not necessarily mean that the report will be shared with us, but if anything remains that we need to know about, I'm sure they will inform us.”

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