Cardinal O'Brien "will meet justice," papal consultant says

(CBS News) As reports of scandals mark Pope Benedict XVI's final week as pontiff, questions arise about the efficacy of internal Vatican inquiries into abuse and corruption charges.

Britain's Cardinal Keith O'Brien announced his resignation Monday morning, amid allegations of inappropriate behavior during his time as a priest. O'Brien denies the charges, but his resignation comes as Benedict is already mired in another controversy. Benedict received a voluminous confidential report Monday complied by three cardinals who investigated the so-called "Vatileaks" scandal.

There has been widespread speculation by Italy's media that the internal investigation revealed everything from bitter political infighting at the highest levels of the Vatican, to sexual blackmail and a purported "gay lobby" of homosexual prelates within the Church.

Church officials have dismissed the reports as "unsourced and unverifiable," insisting they have no basis in truth.

Rev. Monsignor Anthony Figueiredo, co-director of The Pontifical North American College in Rome and a CBS News consultant, defended the Church's ability to police itself without outside interference.

"The Roman Catholic church has a process for dealing with such cases. It is thorough, it is just, it is final," the papal consultant insisted. "That process is already in motion and Cardinal O'Brien will meet the justice he needs, as will the church, as will the perpetrators, and also those who have been victimized."

Monsignor Figueiredo offered the handling of the sex abuse cases in the U.S. as an example of effective church justice, saying, "certainly in the United States, the American bishops, backed by Pope Benedict, have done really enormous efforts to deal with the sexual abuse scandal."

He also denied the suggestion that Pope Benedict is stepping down partly due to mounting scandals and said Benedict remains committed to moving the church past the scandal and returning it to its core mission.

"The Holy Father met just a couple of hours ago with the three cardinals he had commissioned to investigate the Vatileaks scandal," said Figueiredo, calling it, "an indication that Pope Benedict is very concerned...[and] wants his successor to continue this process, to deal with it, and to remove anyone who is involved."

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