Vatican responds to widely divergent reports on Boffo resignation

.- A Vatican communique released Tuesday stated that Pope Benedict XVI “deplores” the “unjust and injurious attacks” circulating in the media against the former editor of the Italian Bishops' Conference daily paper.

Dino Boffo resigned from his editorial position of L'Avvenire last fall based on claims from a local Italian paper that he was a “renowned homosexual” and that he had been fined for allegedly harassing the wife of a man he was interested in.

Though the author of the article, Vittorio Feltri of the Il Giornale, later admitted that his assertions were based on false documents, the media frenzy surrounding the scandal has shifted to recent claims by Feltri that the Holy See created the falsified dossier. Those implicated by Feltri include individuals such as the editor of L'Osservatore Romano and the Cardinal Secretary of State.

The Vatican rebuffed these claims in a Tuesday statement, insisting, “These news items and reconstructions have no basis whatsoever in fact.”

“Since Jan. 23 an increasing number of news items and reconstructions have been appearing, especially in many Italian news media, concerning the events surrounding the resignation of the editor of the Italian Catholic daily 'Avvenire,' with the evident intention of demonstrating the involvement of the editor of the 'Osservatore Romano' in the affair, even going so far as to insinuate the responsibility of the Cardinal Secretary of State,” the communique explained.

Tuesday's response from the Secretary of State also countered other rumors floated in the press.

"Specifically, it is false that officers of the Vatican Gendarmerie or the editor of the 'Osservatore Romano' passed on the documents which lay behind the resignation of the editor of 'Avvenire' on 3 September last year; it is false that the editor of the 'Osservatore Romano' gave - or in any way transmitted or endorsed - information about these documents; and it is false that he wrote under a pseudonym, or inspired, articles in other publications,” the statement said.

“It seems clear from the proliferation of the most incredible assertions and hypotheses - repeated by the media with truly remarkable consonance - that everything rests on unfounded convictions, with the intention of gratuitously and calumniously attributing to the editor of 'Osservatore Romano' an unmotivated, unreasonable and malicious action,” the response continued.

According to the Secretary of State, the assertions have risen to the level of “a defamatory campaign against the Holy See, which even involves the Roman Pontiff.”

In the wake of the scandal, many have seen Boffo's resignation as a direct and intentional effort by Il Giornale, a paper owned and supported by the family of the Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. Boffo had reportedly criticized the Prime Minister often in his writings and accused him of living an immoral lifestyle.

The Vatican communique concluded by saying that “The Holy Father Benedict XVI, who has been kept constantly informed, deplores these unjust and injurious attacks, renews his complete faith in his collaborators, and prays that those who truly have the good of the Church to heart may work with all means to ensure that truth and justice triumph.”

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