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VATICAN CITY: Catholic cardinals yesterday pressed for more information about the “Vatileaks” scandal at the start of a series of Vatican meetings to prepare for a conclave to elect a new Pope after Benedict XVI’s sudden resignation.
“If we’re going to make a good decision, I’m sure we’ll have to have some information on that,” South African cardinal Wilfrid Napier told reporters on the sidelines of the meetings.
Asked whether there would have to be a reform of the Roman Curia, the central government of the Catholic Church, Napier said: “That naturally is going to come into the picture as well.”
French cardinal Philippe Barbarin said: “We want to know what’s going on inside the Vatican, which has been a bit knocked about in recent years.”
Hundreds of confidential papal documents alleging instances of corruption and intrigue in the administration of the Vatican were leaked to the press last year, causing huge embarrassment.
Benedict’s personal butler was convicted in the case but some Vatican watchers say there may have been a wider conspiracy and an inquiry by three cardinals into the affair has been kept secret.
Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi implied there would be no general discussion on “Vatileaks”, saying that cardinals could ask fellow cardinals “for any information they believe useful.”
Spanish cardinal Carlos Amigo Vallejo however played down wider implications from the scandal.
“I was a missionary bishop for a long time and I thought of those small communities in North Africa. I don’t think they care a lot about our little internal problems,” he said.
The Vatican meetings will set the date for the start of the conclave later this month and help identify cardinals who could become the next leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics.
“We’re going to take as much time as we need to think about what sort of Pope the Church needs now,” French cardinal Andre Vingt-Trois said.
“I’d be keen to have a polyglot, a man of faith, a man of dialogue... The new Pope will certainly have to confront problems within the Curia.”
The meetings are expected to last all week and are also a rare chance for all the world’s cardinals to get together and to discuss the many different challenges facing the Catholic Church.
“The key themes the Church will have to face are inter-religious issues and poverty,” Vingt-Trois said. Napier said: “My priorities would be... reconciliation, renewal of the faith so people understand what the faith is about and rebuilding the credibility of the Church.” Benedict’s eight-year pontificate was often overshadowed by Vatican intrigue and scandals in Europe and North America over abuse by paedophile priests going back decades.