di Davide Marchetta
Santiago, June 12 - A key Latin American Catholic Church group said Wednesday it was sorry about the "confusion" caused by the publication of members' accounts of a meeting with Pope Francis where he is quoted as lamenting a "stream of corruption" in the Roman Curia and a gay lobby in the Vatican. The Latin American and Caribbean Confederation of Religious (CLAR) said the pope's reported comments, published in Spanish Tuesday by progressive Chilean-based website Reflection and Liberation, "cannot with certainty be attributed to the Holy Father, only their general sense". CLAR apologised to Francis, saying it was "deeply sorry", after "the personal accounts of those present at the June 6 audience" were picked up and translated by the Rorate Caeli blog, which is read in Vatican circles. It stressed the pope's comments had not been recorded but were what CLAR members remembered of his answers to their questions. Francis was asked about the panel of cardinals he has set up to help him reform the Curia, the Catholic Church's central administrative body. He was quoted as replying: "...it is difficult. In the Curia, there are also holy people, really, there are holy people. But there also is a stream of corruption, there is that as well, it is true... The 'gay lobby' is mentioned, and it is true, it is there... We need to see what we can do..." Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi on Tuesday declined to comment on the audience, stressing its content was private. But the pontiff's reported comments have been taken as surprising confirmation of media reports about alleged corruption and dysfunction in the Holy See. Exactly a month after his election to succeed Benedict XVI, on April 13, Francis name a panel of eight high-profile, international cardinals to advise him on reforming Church governance. Shortly before Benedict's shock resignation on February 28 after a year of scandals including leaks of sensitive documents by the pope's butler, Rome's left-leaning daily La Repubblica and Silvio Berlusconi's flagship newsmagazine Panorama ran reports on an alleged "gay lobby" with sway over Vatican policy. The unsources reports claimed the supposed lobby may have pursued its ends through blackmail and suggested that the scandals had led in part to Benedict's decision to resign. Details of the so-called Vatileaks scandal were laid out in a dossier compiled by three trusted cardinals for Benedict, who left it for Francis. The Vatican denounced the reports as "unverified, unverifiable or completely false." In CLAR's report of the June 6 audience, Francis is also said to have complained about various unorthodox strains of thought in the Catholic Church, including gnostics and pantheists.