by Mark Dowd, BBC News
Benedict XVI shocked the world in February when he became the first pope to resign in almost 600 years. But attention shifted quickly to the succession, and the election of the new Pope, Francis. Amid the drama, one question was never fully answered – why did Benedict quit?
Pope Benedict's official resignation statement offered his waning physical and mental powers as the explanation, but it's long been suspected there was more to it. And my inquiries have confirmed that.
I went to visit the Nigerian Cardinal, Francis Arinze at his apartment overlooking St Peter's. He's one of the most senior figures in the church and knows the Vatican like the back of his hand. He was even, for a short time in March of this year, mooted as a possible successor to Pope Benedict. And he was one of the select handful of senior church officials who were in the Pope's Apostolic Palace when he broke the news to them personally.
I raised the subject of the scandals that had preceded the Pope's bombshell decision and, in particular the Vatileaks affair in which the Pope's butler, Paolo Gabriele, had leaked confidential documents exposing Vatican power struggles. Could that have been a factor in his resignation? His answer was unexpected.