Vatican magistrates may have authorized the tapping of two or three telephone lines during the investigation into leaks from the pope's private apartments, a Vatican spokesman said Thursday.
The Rev. Federico Lombardi was responding to a report in the Italian weekly magazine Panorama claiming that there had been a large-scale wiretapping and surveillance operation during the investigation. He denied there had been "a massive" operation on the scale reported by the magazine, saying there was "no foundation" for the article.
If there was any wiretapping or surveillance, "it's a very small process," Vatican spokesman the Rev. Thomas Rosica said. Both spokesmen denied that the operation had been ordered by the three cardinals commissioned to write a report into the scandal, saying that if it had happened, it was ordered by magistrates.
[Updated at 6:59 a.m. ET] In his final general audience, Pope Benedict XVI told tens of thousands of people in St. Peter's Square about his own spiritual journey through eight years as pontiff.
Dressed all in white and looking serene, the leader of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics called for a renewal of faith.
As he finished, cheers erupted from the crowd in the square - acknowledged by Benedict, who is steeping down tomorrow, with an open-armed embrace.FULL STORY
[Updated at 8:26 a.m. ET] We're getting details about the future of the first pope to resign in nearly 600 years.
The pontiff will keep the name Benedict XVI and the title "his holiness" once he retires. He also will be known as pope emeritus, emeritus pope or Roman pontifex emeritus, Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi told reporters at the Vatican on Tuesday.
Benedict surprised the world when he announced earlier this month that he would retire effective this Thursday.FULL STORY
This will be one short-lived Twitter feed.
When Pope Benedict XVI leaves office on February 28, his Twitter presence as @Pontifex will also come to an end, according to Vatican Radio.
Benedict has been active on Twitter for only about two and a half months, but more than 2 million people have chosen to follow his tweets in nine languages.FULL STORY
The pope is not suffering from any specific disease that forced him to resign, his spokesman said Tuesday. He is resigning because he does not feel he has the strength to continue, the Rev. Federico Lombardi said.
Lombardi emphasized that Benedict remains pope until Feb. 28, when his resignation takes effect.
Read more:FULL STORY
When Pope Benedict XVI announced Monday that he would step down at the end of the month, an interesting debate sprang up: Do popes resign or abdicate?
In English, the pope said he is renouncing his role at the end of the month "because of advanced age." ¬†In some other languages, he uses the word "vacating."
This is a rare situation; the last pope to resign was Gregory XII in 1415.
But it turns out there is some specific language to help guide the linguistics of it all.
"Should it¬†happen¬†that the¬†Roman¬†Pontiff¬†resigns¬†from his¬†office, it is¬†required¬†for¬†validity¬†that the¬†resignation¬†be¬†freely made and¬†properly¬†manifested, but it is not¬†necessary¬†that it be¬†accepted¬†by anyone,"¬†according to laws that guide the church.
So according to those rules, the correct word to describe the pope's actions would be resignation.
But many people have been calling the pope‚Äôs announcement an abdication. That word normally applies in a royal context, when the person who leaves their position has an immediate successor in place.
In this case, the cardinals will vote on a new pope.
Legislators in the Philippines have passed a birth-control bill that will open the door for free contraceptives and government-funded sex education.
Voting for the legislation was carried live on CNN affiliate ABS-CNN in the Philippines.
The bill was strongly opposed by the Catholic Church. It awaits the signature of President Benigno Aquino III to become law.FULL STORY
If Paolo Gabriele ever does get the pope's pardon, it won't be before he serves some jail time.
Gabriele, a former butler to Pope Benedict XVI, will start his 18-month sentence in a Vatican cell Thursday for taking secret papers from the pope's personal apartment and leaking them to an author who included them in a best-selling book, the Vatican said.