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Litany of secrets revealed after papal retirement bombshell

  • FILE -- In this file picture made available on March 26, 2012 by the Vatican newspaper Osservatore Romano, Pope Benedict XVI wears a Mexican sombrero hat in Leon, Mexico, Sunday, March 25, 2012. Turin's La Stampa newspaper reported Thursday, Feb. 14, 2014, that Benedict hit his head and bled when he got up in the middle of the night in an unfamiliar bedroom in Leon, Mexico. The report said blood stained his hair, pillow and floor. Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi confirmed the incident but said "it was not relevant for the trip, in that it didn't affect it, nor in the decision" to resign. (AP Photo/Osservatore Romano)

VATICAN CITY — For an institution devoted to eternal light, the Vatican has shown itself to be a master of smokescreens since Pope Benedict XVI's shock resignation announcement.

On Thursday, the Vatican spokesman acknowledged that Benedict hit his head and bled profusely while visiting Mexico in March. Two days earlier the same man acknowledged that Benedict has had a pacemaker for years, and underwent a secret operation to replace its battery three months ago.

And as the Catholic world reeled from shock over the abdication, it soon became clear that Benedict's post-papacy lodgings have been under construction since at least the fall. That in turn put holes in the Holy See's early claims that Benedict kept his decision to himself until he revealed it.

Vatican secrecy is legendary and can have tragic consequences — as the world learned through the church sex abuse scandal in which bishops quietly moved abusive priests without reporting their crimes.

And the secrecy is institutionalized from such weighty matters to the most trivial aspects of Vatican life.


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