The day the Pope resigned I wrote:Pope22 Breaking: Pope Quit Because of Inquiry into Blackmail of Vatican Gay Officials

The worst pontiff of my lifetime announced today that he will step down citing health concerns. But one wonders if he is really abdicating, or simply absconding in an effort to escape potential ramifications over the awful child rape scandal that has plagued his papacy?

It just seems inconceivable, that absent scandal, a lifetime social climber would so easily give up power and the trappings of the Vatican, including his fancy Prada shoes and luxury Pope mobile. And, after all, the last time a Pope abdicated was 1415. Somehow, I don’t think Ratzinger wanted to break tradition so he had more time for golf.

It turns out that I was onto something — but it might have been the wrong scandal. Italy’s largest newspaper, La Republica today broke a major story:

A potentially explosive report has linked the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI to the discovery of a network of gay prelates in the Vatican, some of whom – the report said – were being blackmailed by outsiders.

The pope’s spokesman declined to confirm or deny the report, which was carried by the Italian daily newspaper La Repubblica.

The paper said the pope had taken the decision on 17 December that he was going to resign – the day he received a dossier compiled by three cardinals delegated to look into the so-called “Vatileaks” affair.

According to La Repubblica, the dossier comprising “two volumes of almost 300 pages – bound in red” had been consigned to a safe in the papal apartments and would be delivered to the pope’s successor upon his election.

The newspaper said the cardinals described a number of factions, including one whose members were “united by sexual orientation”.

It appears that the Pope thinks shuffling predatory, pedophile priests and spending more than $2.5 billion in child molestation settlements isn’t a reason to resign, but a few gay priests caught with their pants down is? What an odd moral culture they have developed in Rome, of late.

The Guardian has more background:

Since announcing his departure he has twice apparently referred to machinations inside the Vatican, saying that divisions “mar the face of the church”, and warned against “the temptations of power”.

La Repubblica’s report was the latest in a string of claims that a gay network exists in the Vatican. In 2007 a senior official was suspended from the congregation, or department, for the priesthood, after he was filmed in a “sting” organised by an Italian television Pope Benedict2 Breaking: Pope Quit Because of Inquiry into Blackmail of Vatican Gay Officials programme while apparently making sexual overtures to a younger man.

In 2010 a chorister was dismissed for allegedly procuring male prostitutes for a papal gentleman-in-waiting. A few months later a weekly news magazine used hidden cameras to record priests visiting gay clubs and bars and having sex.

This is a fascinating story and I believe every word of it. After all, when you have an institution that cares more about its reputation than protecting innocent, vulnerable kids from child raping priests, anything, no matter how low, is possible.