FaithWorld

Vatican says “Vatileaks” scandal is a brutal personal attack on Pope Benedict

(Pope Benedict XVI conducts the holy mass of Pentecost Sunday in Saint Peter's Basilica at the Vatican May 27, 2012. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini )

The Vatican on Tuesday denounced the theft of secret papal documents as a “brutal” personal attack on Pope Benedict as a powerful group of cardinals hunted more culprits behind the biggest crisis of his pontificate.

With the crisis over leaks of sensitive documents deepening, the third most senior figure in the Vatican fired a bitter salvo in the Vatican’s official newspaper L’Osservatore Romano.

Vatican deputy secretary of state, Archbishop Angelo Becciu said in an interview that the publication of stolen documents in a recent book by Italian journalist Gianluigi Nuzzi was a “criminal” act.

It was the first time the paper has reported on the arrest of Benedict’s butler nearly a week ago and it reflected the anger in the Holy See over what is seen as a betrayal of Benedict.

Scandal-hit Catholic order head admits covering up priest’s lovechild

(Pope John Paul II (R) blesses Father Marcial Maciel, founder of the Legionaries of Christ, during a special audience in Paul VI hall at the Vatican November 30, 2004. REUTERS/Tony Gentile )

The leader of the Legionaries of Christ admitted on Tuesday he knew for years the scandal-plagued Roman Catholic order’s most famous priest had fathered a child but still allowed the popular cleric to preach about morality. The order, still reeling from revelations that its founder was a sex abuser and drug addict with two secret families, suffered another major blow last week when it admitted that Father Thomas Williams, an American based in Rome, also had led a double life.

But the question that had been left hanging after the first admission was how long Williams’ superiors knew. In a letter to members published on the order’s website, the order’s leader, Father Alvaro Corcuera, said he found out about Williams’s child “early in my new assignment” as director-general, which began in 2005.

Catholic order knew for months about scandal of popular priest’s child: Vatican official

(Pope John Paul II blesses Father Marcial Maciel during a special audience in Paul VI hall at the Vatican. Pope John Paul II blesses Father Marcial Maciel, founder of the Legion of Christ, during a special audience in Paul VI hall at the Vatican November 30, 2004. REUTERS/Tony Gentile)

Leaders of the scandal-plagued Legionaries of Christ religious order knew that their most famous priest had fathered a child for many months before they acknowledged it this week, a top Vatican official told Reuters on Wednesday.

The once influential religious order, still in crisis following revelations that its founder was a sexual abuser with two secret families, suffered another major blow on Tuesday when American Father Thomas Williams admitted to having fathered a child with a woman in Rome.

Vatican says efforts to heal rift with SSPX traditionalists are “encouraging”

(A traditionalist priest prays during an SSPX ordination ceremony in Econe, southwest Switzerland June 29, 2009. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse)

An ultra-traditionalist Roman Catholic splinter group has provided an “encouraging” response to Vatican demands that they accept non-negotiable doctrinal principles as a condition for their full re-entry into the Church.

The Vatican said on Wednesday it had received an answer from the dissident Society of Saint Pius X (SSPX) to the Holy See’s ultimatum a month ago that the group clarify its doctrinal position or risk a painful break with Rome. “The response is encouraging, it is a step forward,” said Vatican spokesman, Father Federico Lombardi.

Pope Benedict, 85, says he’s in last stretch of life but God helps him go on

(Children dressed in traditional Bavarian costumes dance for Pope Benedict XVI during the Pontiff's 85th birthday celebrations in the Clementine Hall at the Vatican April 16, 2012. REUTERS/Gregorio Borgia/Pool)

Pope Benedict marked his 85th birthday on Monday saying he is now in the “last stretch” of his life but sure that God would help him continue his mission.

Benedict, who has looked tired and drawn recently, is one of history’s oldest reigning pontiffs – and already older than his predecessor John Paul II was when he died in 2005.

Pope Benedict marks milestones this week amid signs of frailty and succession talk

(Pope Benedict XVI leaves at the end of the Sunday Angelus prayer in Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican April 15, 2012. REUTERS/Tony Gentile )

Pope Benedict marks two milestones this week and while his health appears stable, signs of frailty have again prompted speculation over whether he will be the first pontiff in seven centuries to resign.

Benedict, one of the oldest popes in history, turns 85 on Monday, and on Thursday he marks the seventh anniversary of his election as successor to the immensely popular John Paul II.

Pope Benedict reaffirms ban on women priests, assails Austrian “call to disobedience”

(Pope Benedict XVI looks on as he leads the Chrismal mass in Saint Peter's Basilica at the Vatican April 5, 2012. REUTERS/Max Rossi )

Pope Benedict has restated the Roman Catholic Church’s ban on women priests and warned that he would not tolerate disobedience by clerics on fundamental teachings. Benedict, who for decades before his 2005 election was the Vatican’s chief doctrinal enforcer, delivered an unusually direct denunciation of disobedient priests in a sermon at a morning Mass on Holy Thursday, when the Church commemorates the day Christ instituted the priesthood.

The pope responded specifically to a call to disobedience by a group of Austrian priests and laity, who last year boldly and openly challenged Church teaching on taboo topics such as priestly celibacy and women’s ordination. “Is disobedience a path of renewal for the Church?,” he asked rhetorically in the sermon of a solemn Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica on the day Catholic priests around the world renew their vows.

Pope Benedict slams U.S. embargo on Cuba, meets Fidel Castro

(Pope Benedict XVI meets former Cuban leader Fidel Castro in Havana March 28, 2012. REUTERS/Alex Castro )

Pope Benedict called for an end to the U.S. trade embargo against Cuba and met with revolutionary icon Fidel Castro on Wednesday as he ended a trip in which he urged the communist island to change.

He also spoke at a public Mass in Havana’s sprawling Revolution Square where the Vatican said 300,000 people gathered to hear the 84-year-old pontiff.

What does a pope do? Fidel Castro asks Pope Benedict

(Pope Benedict XVI meets former Cuban leader Fidel Castro in Havana March 28, 2012. REUTERS/Osservatore Romano)

Pope Benedict and Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro, both octogenarians, joked about their age in a brief meeting on Wednesday and then Castro popped the question: so what do you do?

The two world figures chatted for about 30 minutes at the Vatican embassy in Havana near the end of the pope’s three-day visit to Cuba, where he called for greater freedom and a bigger role for the Catholic Church in the communist-led nation.

Cuba quashes hopes for reform as Pope Benedict meets Raul Castro

(Pope Benedict XVI is welcomed by Cuban President Raul Castro (R) at Revolution Palace in Havana March 27, 2012. REUTERS/Tony Gentile )

Pope Benedict and Cuban President Raul Castro have met for talks on a papal trip that has sparked hopes for economic and political change, but one national leader said there would be no political reform on the communist island.

Cuban television showed the pope and Castro in the Palace of the Revolution on Tuesday at the beginning and end of an hour-long meeting, but they did not speak to the press. A Vatican spokesman said former leader Fidel Castro, who may or may not meet with Benedict, did not attend the talks.