HE WAS once called “God’s Rottweiler,” but the entanglement of scandal that has become Pope Benedict’s reign and will be his legacy is now morphing into the stuff of potboiler melodrama. Think Godfather III, the reality show edition.

The paper claims that around the time that Pope Benedict decided to step down, the pontiff learned of a faction of gay prelates in the Vatican who may have been exposed to blackmail by a group of male prostitutes in Rome. The revelations allegedly appeared in a 300-page report by three cardinals that the pope commissioned to investigate the release of internal documents by his butler, the so-called “Vatileaks” scandal. (A Vatican spokesman has refused to confirm or deny La Repubblica’s claims, and the internal Vatican report is reportedly stowed away in a papal safe for Pope Benedict’s successor to peruse.) [Foreign Policy]

The Vatileaks scandal requires a guide, however, even if you don’t have one you would end up at the same place. From July 2012, a partial list of leading characters, but remember, this is just the teaser:

The leaks point to at least three shadowy, interlocking plots: an anonymous campaign to undermine Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican secretary of state and Pope Benedict XVI’s top deputy; a struggle over the future of the Vatican bank; and an effort by Italian cardinals to gain more influence over the choice of Benedict’s successor.

The Italian newspaper La Repubblica [ht HuffPost] broke the story wide, and today the Vatican responded with outrage and indignation, the perpetual position when attempting to protect a papacy.

(Vatican Radio) In this week’s editorial, Fr. Federico Lombardi, sj, speaks of the external challenges and pressures put on the Church since the resignation of Pope Benedict and leading up to the upcoming conclave. Fr. Lombardi is the director of the Press Office of the Holy See. Read Vatican Radio’s English translation below.

The journey of the Church in these last weeks of Pope Benedict XVI’s pontificate and up until the election of the new Pope ““ passing through the sede vacante and the conclave ““ is very demanding, given the newness of the situation. We do not ““ and we rejoice ““ have to carry the pain of the death of a much-loved Pope, but we have not been spared another test: that of the multiplication of the pressures and considerations that are foreign to the spirit with which the Church would like to live this period of waiting and preparation.

There is no lack, in fact, of those who seek to profit from the moment of surprise and disorientation of the spiritually naive to sow confusion and to discredit the Church and its governance, making recourse to old tools, such as gossip, misinformation and sometimes slander, or exercising unacceptable pressures to condition the exercise of the voting duty on the part of one or another member of the College of Cardinals, who they consider to be objectionable for one reason or another.

In the majority of cases, those who present themselves as judges, making heavy moral judgments, do not, in truth, have any authority to do so. Those who consider money, sex and power before all else and are used to reading diverse realities from these perspectives, are unable to see anything else, even in the Church, because they are unable to gaze toward the heights or descend to the depths in order to grasp the spiritual dimensions and reasons of existence. This results in a description of the Church and of many of its members that is profoundly unjust.

But all of this will not change the attitude of believers; it will not erode the faith and the hope with which they see the Lord, who promised to accompany his Church. According to the indications of Church law and tradition, we want this to be a time of sincere reflection on the spiritual expectations of the world and on the faithfulness of the Church to the Gospel, of prayer for the assistance of the Spirit, of closeness to the College of Cardinals that is preparing for the demanding service of discernment and choice that is asked of it and for which it principally exists.

In this, we are accompanied first and foremost by the example and spiritual integrity of Pope Benedict, who wanted to dedicate to prayer, from the start of Lent, this final stretch of his pontificate ““ a penitential journey of conversion toward the joy of Easter. This is how we are living it and how we will live it: in conversion and hope.

It should be noted that while the Vatican decried the media’s message, they did not deny the report itself.