The Vatican's penchant for secrecy has won out over American-style transparency.
The U.S. cardinals in Rome for the conclave to elect the next pope cancelled their popular daily press briefings Wednesday, purportedly after some details of the secret proceedings under way ahead of the election were leaked to Italian newspapers.
The Vatican denied it had exerted any pressure on the American cardinals to keep quiet. But the Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, made clear that the Holy See considered this week's pre-conclave meetings, in which cardinals are discussing the problems of the church, to be secret and part of a solemn process to choose a pope.
"The College (of Cardinals) as a whole has decided to maintain a line of an increasing degree of reserve," he said.
The spokeswoman for the U.S. cardinals, Sister Mary Ann Walsh, said Wednesday's briefing was cancelled after other cardinals expressed concern in the morning "about leaks of confidential proceedings reported in Italian newspapers."
She said that, as a precaution, all interviews had been cancelled.
In an interview with The Associated Press, Walsh said Italy's La Stampa newspaper had on Monday and Tuesday reported details of comments individual cardinals made in the closed-door meetings that were cited as a violation of their oath of secrecy. That prompted the decision to observe a media blackout.