(News.com.au) Pope Benedict XVI resigned after an internal investigation informed him about a web of blackmail, corruption and gay sex in the Vatican, Italian media reports say.

A team of three cardinals were asked by Benedict to verify allegations of financial impropriety, cronyism and corruption exposed in the so-called VatiLeaks affair.

In December, they handed the pontiff a large portfolio of papers which was “an exact map of the mischief and the bad fish” inside the Holy See, La Repubblica said.

“It was on that day, with those papers on his desk, that Benedict XVI took the decision he had mulled over for so long,” said the centre-left newspaper.

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