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Pope Francis was spied upon by NSA before appointment

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
October 31st, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

The much-despised national Security Agency, or NSA had its fingers in many, many pies. Originally intended to monitor terrorist activity, the NSA was discovered to have been monitoring many of this nation's closest allies, such as Germany and Spain. Now - it has been learned that the election of Pope Francis was likewise scrutinized with tapped telephone conversations.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - It's been learned that the NSA spied upon Francis before and during the Vatican conclave at which he was chosen to succeed Benedict XVI.

Telephone calls made to and from the residence in Rome where the then Archbishop Jorge Mario Bergoglio stayed during the conclave were heavily monitored.

As reported by the Italian weekly news magazine Panorama, the NSA monitored the telephone calls of many bishops and cardinals at the Vatican in the lead-up to the conclave. Data was then divided into four categories; "leadership intentions," "threats to financial system," "foreign policy objectives" and "human rights."

During this period, Benedict XVI was still Pope. This suggests that the Vatican may also have been monitored during the last few weeks of his papacy.

Cryptome, a Web site that gathers intelligence on surveillance and national security claims that the U.S. intercepted 46 million telephone calls in Italy between December 10, 2012 and January 8, 2013.

Phone calls and emails surveillance continued after Benedict's resignation in February and encompassed the election of Pope Francis.

"It is feared that the great American ear continued to tap prelates' conversations up to the eve of the conclave," Panorama said.

There were also "suspicions that the conversations of the future Pope may have been monitored," but provided no hard evidence or quoted sources for the claim.

Archbishop Bergoglio was of interest to U.S. diplomats and intelligence agencies as far back as 2005. Bergoglio was mentioned as a possible candidate for the papacy after the death of John Paul II.

The U.S. embassy to the Holy See drew up a profile of him, describing him as a "wise pastor" who had been praised for his "humility," according to U.S. State Department cables released by WikiLeaks in March this year. 

The embassy's charge d'affaires Brent Hardt discussed the future Pope as one of 16 possible candidates, noting that he "has been reluctant to accept honors or hold high office and commutes to work on a bus."

The U.S. agency also intercepted telephone calls relating to the selection of a new head of the scandal-ridden Vatican bank, Panorama said.

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