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Cardinals impose media blackout

| Wednesday, March 6, 2013, 7:09 p.m.

VATICAN CITY — In the end, American-style transparency was no match for the Vatican's obsession with secrecy.

Cardinals attending closed-door discussions before the conclave to elect the next pope imposed a media blackout on Wednesday, forcing the cancellation of the popular daily press briefings by American cardinals that had provided crucial insights into the deliberations.

The stated reason for the blackout was that details of secret discussions about problems in the church appeared in the Italian newspaper La Stampa.

But speculation mounted that the underlying aim of the blackout was to silence the Americans, who have been vocal in their calls for disclosure about allegations of corruption and dysfunction in the Holy See's governance before they enter the conclave to elect a successor to Benedict XVI.

As a result, the conflict appears to be a microcosm of the likely battle lines heading into the election: American and German cardinals have indicated they want a pope who will impose some order on the Vatican's inner workings, while the Vatican-based cardinals are defending their record and seeking to end the discussion.

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