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Cardinals involved in Vatileaks? Why not?

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles - email) | Jun 15, 2012

Italian news reports have said that two cardinals have been implicated in the Vatileaks scandal. The Vatican press office insists that’s mere speculation.

Could it be true? Could princes of the Church be guilty of violating confidences? It sounds shocking. But…

When they enter a conclave to elect a new Roman Pontiff, the cardinals take a solemn oath that they will not reveal what takes place. Yet invariably, within a few weeks after the new Pope is elected, Vatican-watchers have a fairly detailed account of the conclave’s deliberations, along with ballot-by-ballot vote totals.

To be sure we don’t know that these accounts are accurate, and since the sources have already shown themselves to be untrustworthy, it’s best to take them with more than a grain of salt. Still the different accounts do seem to line up fairly well; the picture that emerges is reasonably clear.

Why would cardinals—the only people who would have information from the conclave—betray their oaths? Cui bono? It’s too late to have any effect on the proceedings. Are they trying to put their own “spin” on the story of the last conclave, in order to prepare for the next one? Or are they so accustomed to gossip that they can’t stop themselves?

Whatever the reason, it’s a sad reality that cardinals do betray confidences. So we shouldn’t be terribly surprised if that’s happening now.

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at See full bio.

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  • Posted by: AgnesDay - Jun. 15, 2012 2:19 PM ET USA

    It certainly makes more sense for a cardinal to leak secrets than a valet. I hope they paid him really handsomely.