Italian Paper: Benedict Quit Amid Crazy Scandal Report says gay priests were blackmailed By Mark Russell, Newser Staff Posted Feb 22, 2013 12:34 PM CST 28 comments Comments Pope Benedict XVI greets the faithful at the end of the Ash Wednesday mass in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2013. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia) (Newser) – Here's a conspiracy theory on Pope Benedict's sudden resignation that wasn't in the first rush of speculation—what if Benedict's decision was linked to a network of gay priests in the Vatican who were being blackmailed by outsiders? That's the premise of a report in La Repubblica picked up by the Guardian. Benedict's decision to resign was reportedly made back on Dec. 17, the same day he was given the results of the "Vatileaks" investigation—an inquiry relating to the pope's butler, Paolo Gabriele, who was arrested and charged with stealing and leaking papal documents. The dossier, given to the pope by three cardinals, allegedly described one faction of cardinals "united by sexual orientation" who were being blackmailed by laymen with whom they had contacts of a "worldly nature," according to the La Repubblica story. "If the whole thing sounds a bit outlandish, it's worth noting that the pope's spokesperson opted to neither confirm nor deny the report," notes the Daily Intel blog, which points out that La Repubblica's track record is solid.