The Pope's top PR man has declared that the Vatican is in the midst of its own "WikiLeaks" scandal after a flurry of confidential Papal documents were fed to the media by apparently disgruntled cardinals.
The leaks have ranged from documents covering allegedly murky operations at the Vatican bank, to an investigation into a Cardinal's apparent certainty that the pope will be bumped off by November this year.
The steady stream of embarrassments are being seen as evidence of a power struggle within the church as one group of elderly men pits itself against another group of elderly men to replace an even more elderly man. Possibly with an elderly Italian.
Papal PR Frederico Lombardi SJ issued a statement yesterday, declaring: "Nowadays we must all have strong nerves, because no one can be surprised at anything."
He went on to declare that "the American administration was affected by WikiLeaks, now the Vatican too has its disclosures, its leaked documents, which tend to create confusion and bewilderment, and to throw a bad light on the Vatican, the governance of the Church and, more broadly, on the Church herself.
"There is something very sad in the fact that documents are dishonestly passed from the inside to the outside in order to create confusion..." he added. "We must, therefore, stand firm, not allowing ourselves to be swallowed up by the vortex of confusion, which is what ill-intentioned people want, and remaining capable of using our reason."
Lombardi said leaks about an overhaul of the way the Vatican orders its finances were apparent attempts to discredit the prime movers behind those efforts.
Notably, Lombardi did not appear to declare that any of the leaks were actually false, except for the "delirious and incomprehensible reports" regarding an alleged assassination conspiracy, which "as I said immediately at the time, is nonsense, madness, and does not deserve to be taken seriously."
Incomprehensible indeed. No one has mounted a serious assassination attempt on the pope for at least 30 years.
On the subject of an apparent power struggle, the papal PR declared: "Whatever may be written in today's newspapers – the true concerns of those with positions of responsibility in the Church are the serious problems facing the men and women of today and tomorrow."
An alternative explanation is of course that it is Satan himself who is leaking the documents. The Church's top exorcist, Father Gabriele Amorth, declared two years ago that the Devil himself was stalking the corridors of the Holy See and was ultimately behind the wave of scandals convulsing the Catholic Church. The possibility that the very personification of evil has now extended his armoury to include the dark arts of selective press leaking is truly terrifying.
Most of the leaks have been aired in the Italian press, with some observers speculating that this is essential a local disagreement.
One Australian Archbishop told a Catholic blog that he was not aware of any crisis: "Maybe somebody’s sending things to me in emails and so on, but I don’t read those things." ®