Report: NSA Listened to Pope’s Calls, Spied on Vatican

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Oct. 30 2013 7:28 PM

Report: NSA Listened to Pope’s Calls, Spied on Vatican

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Black smoke billows from the chimney on the roof of the Sistine Chapel.

Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

The papal conclave is a much anticipated event for Catholics around the world. Devotees can wait for days in all types of weather to witness the white smoke billowing from the Sistine Chapel, indicating a new Pope has been chosen. During the selection process, speculation is rampant as the world looks for any indication of how the church’s cardinals might lean. The NSA, however, according to the Italian magazine Panorama, may have already had the inside scoop, because it had tapped the Vatican’s phones.

Panorama, according to the Independent, “says US secret services monitored the phone calls of Pope Benedict XVI, as well as those of his successor Francis I. NSA staff listened in on cardinals before the conclave to elect the Pope in March this year, it says.” The magazine claims, as Reuters reports, that the NSA’s cataloguing of Vatican phone calls was divided into four categories: “leadership intentions, threats to the financial system, foreign policy objectives and human rights.”

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Vatican spokesman, Father Federico Lombardi, told Reuters: "We are not aware of anything on this issue and in any case we have no concerns about it."

Elliot Hannon is a writer in Washington, D.C. Follow him on Twitter.

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