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Vatican Blasts 'Pressures' Ahead of Pope Election

Pope Benedict XVI (R) speaks to Cardinals during the closing day of the Spiritual Exercises at the Vatican, February 23, 2013.
The Vatican has criticized the media for adding what it called defamatory "pressures" on cardinals ahead of the election of a new pope.

The Vatican secretariat of state said Saturday that the "widespread distribution of often unverified, unverifiable or completely false news stories" is "deplorable" and causes serious damage to people and institutions.

Italian newspapers recently have put out unsourced reports about the contents of a secret dossier prepared for the pope that was linked to the 2012 scandal over leaked Vatican documents.

Pope Benedict announced earlier this month that he was resigning for health reasons. He is the first pope to step aside in hundreds of years.

Current rules call for the cardinals who elect the pope to meet on March 15, which is 15 days after Benedict formally steps down.

Benedict is 85 years old. He was elected pope in 2005 to replace the late John Paul II.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and AFP.