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Cardinals call media blackout as some seek details of Vatican leaks report

Cardinals take part prayer with other cardinals March 6 2013 St Peter's basilica. AFP PHOTO / VINCENZO PINTOVINCENZO PINTO/AFP/Getty Images

Cardinals take part in a prayer with other cardinals on March 6, 2013 at St Peter's basilica. AFP PHOTO / VINCENZO PINTOVINCENZO PINTO/AFP/Getty Images

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Updated: April 8, 2013 7:41AM

The butler did it . . .

The meeting of cardinals in Rome in preparation for choosing a new pope is beginning to read like a Dan Brown “DaVinci Code” mystery.

◆Translation: They want to know what the pope’s butler did — and what he found out.

◆To wit: A new Vatican leaks scandal, dealing with Italian media reports of private deliberations among cardinals, has resulted in a media blackout imposed by the College of Cardinals.

◆The kicker: The blackout comes in the wake of news that a contingent of cardinals wants access to a secret Vatican report dealing with papal papers stolen by the pope’s butler — which also were leaked to the Italian media.

◆Backshot: The papal butler, who was subsequently forgiven by recently retired Pope Benedict XVI, was found guilty of stealing documents alleging Vatican disarray, factionalism and fiscal mismanagement.

◆Upshot: “Only Pope Benedict has seen the results of a secret report put together by three cardinals he commissioned to find out what was behind the butler’s theft,” said a Sneed source. “It remains sealed and for the pope’s eyes only.”

◆Jumpshot: “A number of cardinals in the conclave, who are preparing to elect the new pope, feel the findings would be beneficial in helping them decide their new leader.”

◆The turn of the screw: The three cardinals who put together the Vatican leaks report won’t be attending the conclave because they are too old.

◆The buckshot: Therefore, they won’t be able to be questioned by the conclave.

◆The final shot: Colleen Dolan, a spokesman for the Chicago Catholic Archdiocese who has accompanied Cardinal Francis George to Rome, tells Sneed:

“The three cardinals who wrote the report on the leaked Vatican documents are present in the daily general congregation meetings even though they will not be eligible to vote in the conclave due to age.

“A number of the U.S. cardinals, including Cardinal George, have suggested that they believe these three cardinals will share with them whatever they think important for them to know in making their assessment about papal candidates.”

Stay tuned.

The CSU controversy . . .

Tit for tat . . . and rat-a-tat-tat: Sneed is told that embattled Chicago State University President Wayne Watson, who is fighting to keep his post at the South Side institution, accused certain members of the school’s board — who want him gone — with trying to fill jobs at the university with friends and a sorority sister.

◆End shot: A resolution of the latest version of the Hatfields vs. the McCoys is expected Friday.

The Chavez file . . .

Ai! Ai! Ai!

This just in since the death of Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez, who befriended Iranian strongman Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

◆He’ll rise again! Ahmadinejad just sent a letter to the people of Venezuela assuring them Chavez would be resurrected with Jesus and the Hidden Imam -- a messianic figure in Shiite Islam.

◆The poison Penn: In addition, Chavez was praised by actor Sean Penn, who urged the election of Vice President Nicolas Maduro to continue the revolution.

◆Final note: It was not known whether Chavez, a devout socialist, embraced his Catholic faith at the last, but it is known that he told friends his mother used to lock him up in a closet when he was a child.

The French connection . . .

Those pesky socialists, part II: Now comes word former French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who is on the speech circuit since losing his job to Socialist leader Francois Hollande, is now telling folks he doesn’t want to return to politics . . . but may have to, to save France from the Socialists . . . and ostensibly to keep as busy as his singer wife, Carla Bruni.

Gaga gab . . .

The koi ploy: Now comes word that Lady Gaga, who is recovering from major hip surgery, purchased $60,000 worth of Japanese koi fish to house in a new fish tank in her home — to help her recovery along.

Sneedlings . . .

Calendar date: An auction to benefit Our Lady of Mount Carmel Academy, which is celebrating 125 years of existence, will be held Saturday at Misericordia. . . . Thursday’s birthdays: Bryan Cranston, 57; Rachel Weisz, 43, and Peter Sarsgaard, 42.

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