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Texan Cardinal Daniel Nicholas DiNardo, and Sean Patrick O'Malley of Boston, speak at yesterday's press briefing. Riccardo De Luca/AP
Veil of Secrecy

'Leaks' prompt US Cardinals to call off pre-conclave press conferences

Italian newspaper reports – including comments made by some cardinals about others – have prompted a media clampdown.

AMERICAN CARDINALS have been forced to cancel their popular daily press briefings, after some details of the secret proceedings underway ahead of the conclave to choose the next pope were purportedly leaked to Italian newspapers.

The Vatican denied it had exerted any pressure on the American cardinals to keep quiet – but its spokesman, Fr Federico Lombardi, made clear that the Holy See considered this week’s pre-conclave meetings – in which cardinals are discussing the problems of the church – to be secret and part of a solemn process to choose a pope.

“The College (of Cardinals) as a whole has decided to maintain a line of an increasing degree of reserve,” he said.

The spokeswoman for the US cardinals, Sister Mary Ann Walsh, said today’s briefing had been cancelled after concern was expressed by other cardinals “about leaks of confidential proceedings reported in Italian newspapers.”

She said as a precaution, all interviews had been canceled.

Italy’s La Stampa newspaper has reported details of comments about individual cardinals, made within the closed-door meetings, on both Monday and Tuesday of this week.

Walsh dismissed speculation that the Vatican and cardinals from other countries simply didn’t appreciate the openness of the Americans, saying: “I don’t think anyone was angry at the Americans, they were angry at La Stampa.”

“In true old-style Catholic schoolteacher fashion, someone talks and everybody stays after school,” Walsh said. She added that the Americans had been assured that the Vatican was pleased with their briefings.

Uniquely open about Conclave gossip

Italian newspapers and international media, including AP, have reported on the unique briefings the Americans were providing, and how they contrasted with the near-silence from other cardinals and the comparatively sedate Vatican briefings.

At their press conference yesterday, Cardinals Daniel DiNardo of Texas and Sean O’Malley of Boston held a lively and informative 30-minute chat with some 100 reporters and two dozen television crews from around the globe.

They revealed no details of their closed-door discussions. But they nevertheless provided journalists with insight about the process from two people actually involved.

“We’re trying to help people have a greater understanding of what the process is and the procedures and background information,” O’Malley told reporters. “Right now that’s about all we can share with you, but we’re happy to try to do it.”

The Americans were the only cardinals who were holding daily briefings; other individual cardinals have given occasional interviews to individual media.

Separately today, the Vatican said only cardinal with a vote in the conclave – Vietnam’s Pham Minh Man – has yet to arrive. Lombardi said he was expected to arrive in Rome tomorrow, meaning a date for the start of the conclave could be decided then.

Explainer: How is a new Pope chosen?

Glossary: Some of the terms you’ll hear during the Papal election

Read: A 12-century Irish saint reckons the next pope is the last

Associated Foreign Press
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