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Pope moves top official amid leaks fallout

By The Associated Press

This article was published February 22, 2013 at 7:57 a.m.

— The pope on Friday transferred a top official from the Vatican’s secretariat of state to Colombia amid swirling media speculation about the contents of a confidential report into the Vatican’s leaks scandal.

The Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, insisted the transfer of Monsignor Ettore Balestrero had been months in the works and had nothing to do with the leaks investigation or what the Vatican considers baseless reporting.

Balestrero was named undersecretary of the Vatican’s Foreign Ministry in 2009 and, among other tasks, has been a lead player in the Holy See’s efforts to get on the “white list” of financially transparent countries.

Pope Benedict XVI on Friday named him ambassador, or nunzio, to Colombia.

Italian newspapers for days have been rife with unsourced reports about the contents of the dossier, presented to Benedict in December, that three cardinals prepared after investigating the origins of the leaks. The scandal broke out last year after papers taken from the pope’s desk were published in a blockbuster book. The pope’s butler was convicted in October of aggravated theft, and later pardoned.

The Vatican has refused to comment on the media reports, which have claimed the contents of the dossier were a factor in Benedict’s decision to resign. Benedict himself has said he simply no longer has the “strength of mind and body” to be pope.


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