The sudden resignation of Pope Benedict XVI followed revelations that high-ranking homosexual Vatical prelates were being blackmailed, according to an article published Thursday by the Italian newspaper La Repubblica.

A spokesman for the Pope refused to deny or confirm the report.

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The newspaper claimed that the Pope reached the decision to step down on December 17, the day he received a collection of documents from three cardinals appointed to investigate the affair that has come to be known as “Vatileaks.”

In May 2012, a servant of the Pope, Paolo Gabriele, was arrested, and was later convicted for stealing private documents from the Pope, and leaking them.

According to the report, the documents, which consist of two volumes containing over 300 pages – have been deposited into a safe and will be transferred to the Pope’s successor after he is chosen.

The Italian newspaper published what was apparently a quote from an inquiry into the leaks, reporting that implicated clerics were vulnerable to extortion.

A source close to Vatican cardinals was quoted as saying "Everything revolves around the non-observance of the sixth and seventh commandments." The sixth commandment prohibits adultery; Catholics argue this prohibits homosexual activity as well. The seventh commandment prohibits theft.

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According to La Repubblica, the cardinals’ report indicated numerous meeting points in Rome and the surrounding area, including a villa outside of the capital, a sauna in the Rome suburbs, a beauty salon in the city, and former university dorms which housed an Italian archbishop.

The La Repubblica report is just the last in a series of articles pertaining to homosexuality in the Vatican. In 2007, a senior Vatican official was suspended after an Italian television show caught him in a filmed sting operation, intending to engage in sexual activity with a minor.

Formally, the Vatican does not condemn homosexuality, but it claims that sexual relations between two men are against nature. The Pope has previously banned openly gay students from studying for the priesthood.