The Guardian brings us startling but, for insiders, unsurprising news:

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.

Last May Pope Benedict’s butler, Paolo Gabriele, was arrested and charged with having stolen and leaked papal correspondence that depicted the Vatican as a seething hotbed of intrigue and infighting.

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”.

In an apparent quotation from the report, La Repubblica said some Vatican officials had been subject to “external influence” from laymen with whom they had links of a “worldly nature”. The paper said this was a clear reference to blackmail.

I don’t know if this is true. I expect that it is.

UPDATE: To refresh your memory, there was this 2010 story from Panorama. Augean stables. Poor Benedict. True, this story is very thinly sourced, which is why I don’t say that I know it’s true. But I expect that it is true because of what I know all too well about the lavender mafia in the US Catholic Church, from things priests in a position to know about the situation in Rome have told me personally, and from situations like the Cardinal Groer debacle. Remember this from 2010?:

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger tried to persuade Pope John Paul II to mount a full investigation into a cardinal who abused boys and young monks, one of the Church’s most senior figures revealed yesterday. But Ratzinger’s opponents in the Vatican managed to block the inquiry. As the future Benedict XVI put it: “The other side won.”

The pervert cardinal was the late Hans Hermann Groer, removed as Archbishop of Vienna in 1995 following sex allegations. The source for the story is Groer’s successor in Vienna, Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn, an intellectual whom some commentators have tipped as a possible future Pope.

“The other side won,” according to Benedict, quoted by Cdl. Schoenborn, who personally put a lot on the line trying to compel John Paul to deal with this situation.

Who was on the “other side” of Cardinal Ratzinger, and why would they cover up for a molesting gay cardinal?