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The Vatican has criticised the media for publishing what it calls “slanderous” reports since Pope Benedict XVI announced his resignation, due to take effect on February 28.

In an editorial on the Vatican radio website, spokesman Federico Lombardi said that some in the media had been trying to profit from the changing situation at the top of the Roman Catholic Church.

Lombardi’s statements came after an unconfirmed report in Italian newspaper La Repubblica suggested that, before resigning, the Pope was presented with a dossier detailing a network of homosexual priests.

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