VATICAN CITY (AP) — The Vatican on Monday blamed the media for fueling the scandal over leaked Vatican documents and insisted there are no power struggles or problems of unity in the Holy See's governance.
Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone told an Italian Catholic weekly that journalists reporting on the leaks scandal are "pretending to be Dan Brown ... inventing stories and replaying legends." The reference to Brown is particularly acute; Brown wrote "The Da Vinci Code" and "Angels and Demons" the best-selling fictional accounts of power struggles and scandals inside the Catholic Church.
The Vatican has been on the defensive ever since sensitive documents alleging corruption and exposing power struggles began appearing in the Italian media in January. A recent book containing dozens of documents from Pope Benedict XVI's own desk has compounded what many see as a plot to undermine Bertone's authority.
Several top Vatican officials have castigated the media for fueling the scandal, and to be sure Italian newspapers in particular have been on a feeding frenzy reporting details of the Vatican's investigation into the leaks that the Vatican spokesman routinely shoots down.
Pope Benedict XVI himself has complained about media reports that "went well beyond the facts, offering an image of the Holy See that doesn't correspond to reality."
But Bertone's interview with Famiglia Cristiana took the complaints to a new level, blasting the "vehemence" of some Italian newspapers in seeking to create divisions between the pope and his collaborators where there weren't any.
"The truth is that there's a will to create division that comes from spite," he said. The interview is due on newsstands Thursday but was made available to journalists Monday.
Bertone admitted the Holy See isn't perfect and that "none of us wants to hide the church's shadows and defects." But he said the Italian media in particular had gone too far, violating the privacy rights of both the pope and the people who correspond with him by publishing leaked documents.
Contrary to media reports depicting factions opposed to him within the Vatican bureaucracy, Bertone said he enjoys "an extraordinary climate of communion" with his colleagues. "Personally, I don't sense any sign of cardinals or church personalities being involved in any conquest of some phantom power," he said.
So far only one person has been arrested in the case: the pope's butler, Paolo Gabriele, a 46-year-old father of three who was arrested May 23 and accused of aggravated theft after reams of papal documents were found in his Vatican City apartment.
The Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said Monday that a commission of cardinals investigating the leaks scandal had so far interrogated 23 people, including Gabriele as well as other lay and clergy, Vatican superiors and employees. The commission members reported back to the pope on Saturday about their investigation and are continuing their work.
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