Cardinals from around the world enter the Vatican's Sistine Chapel March 12 as they begin the conclave to elect a successor to Pope Benedict XVI. (CNS photo/L'Osservatore Romano via Reuters)
The NSA is denying reports that it tapped the phones of top
Vatican officials and cardinalsincluding then-Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergogliobefore
and during the conclave that would elect the Argentinian prelate pope.
The allegations against the NSA appear in tomorrow’s
edition of the Italian newsweekly Panorama.
A spokesman for the agency dismissed
claims made by Panorama, an Italian weekly magazine, which said that the NSA monitored the telephone calls of
many bishops and cardinals at the Vatican in the lead-up to the conclave,
which was held amid tight security in the Sistine Chapel.
"The National Security Agency does
not target the Vatican. Assertions that NSA has targeted the Vatican, published
in Italy's Panorama magazine, are not true," agency spokesman Vanee Vines
said in a statement.
The allegations from Panorama follow a
report on Cryptome, a website that gathers intelligence on surveillance and
national security, which claimed the US intercepted 46 million telephone calls
in Italy between Dec 10 2012 and Jan 8 January 2013.
The monitoring of communications,
including emails, continued after Benedict’s resignation in February and
encompassed the election of Pope Francis.
“It is feared that the great American
ear continued to tap prelates’ conversations up to the eve of the conclave,”
the weekly magazine said.
added that there were “suspicions that the conversations of the future Pope may
have been monitored”, but provided no hard evidence or quoted sources for the
When asked about the Panorama
report, Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi, SJ
said, “We have heard nothing of this and in any case we have no concerns about