Vatican magistrates may have authorized the tapping of two or three telephone lines during the cardinals' inquiry into the leaks, Lombardi acknowledged Thursday, responding to a report in the Italian weekly magazine Panorama that claimed a large-scale surveillance operation had been run.
Lombardi denied there had been "a massive" operation on the scale reported by the magazine, saying there is "no foundation" for the article. Roscia said that if there was any wiretapping or surveillance, "it's a very small process."
Both spokesmen denied that the operation had been ordered by the three cardinals, saying that if it had happened, it was ordered by magistrates.
At the same time, the church faces continued anger about what many see as its failure to deal with child sex abuse by priests.
So, when Benedict announced on February 11 that he would step down, there was inevitable speculation that his move was in some way linked to the brewing scandals.
Dolan, the most senior Catholic cleric in the United States, told CNN's Christiane Amanpour that there was an urgent need for a recovery and renewal in the church
The new pope won't seek to alter the teachings of the church, but could change the way they are presented, Dolan said.
'The Lord seemed to sleep'
The danger for the Vatican is that the scandals risk overshadowing what others see as Benedict's real legacy to the church: his teaching and writings, including three papal encyclicals.
Proof of the Vatican's irritation came with a stinging statement Saturday complaining of "unverified, unverifiable or completely false news stories," even suggesting the media is trying to influence the election of the next pope.
The constant buffeting by scandal will doubtless also have taken a toll on an 85-year-old man whose interests lie in scholarly study and prayer rather than damage control.
Benedict suggested as much at his final general audience Wednesday, when in front of cheering crowds in St. Peter's Square he spoke of steering the church through sometimes choppy waters.
There had been "many days of sunshine," he said, but also "times when the water was rough ... and the Lord seemed to sleep."
Benedict also called for a renewal of faith, and for the prayers of Catholics around the world both for him and his successor.
Italian iReporter Giovanni Francia was in St. Peter's Square to witness the scene. "There was a good atmosphere, (but) full of the sense we have lost a sort of 'grandfather,'" he said. "Now we are a little more alone."