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“For months, Benedict appeared isolated, closed up in his study polishing his speeches, writing his book on Jesus of Nazareth to be published in April or playing the piano,” said Ignazio Ingrao, who writes for Panorama.

“His only outings were dinners at the home of his former secretary, Monsignor Josef Clemens. He has paid dearly for not being a team player.”

La Repubblica said the pope was furious when he was forced to accept Bishop Wielgus’ resignation only hours before his formal installation.

Among those Benedict reportedly passed over for the Warsaw Archdiocese was Stanislaw Rylko, president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity and the reputed ghostwriter of the last books by John Paul II.

Bishop Wielgus at first denied cooperating with Poland’s communist-era secret police, despite disclosures in a Polish weekly that his name was on a list of documents found at the National Remembrance Institute. He then acknowledged it, but said he “never informed on anyone and never tried to hurt anyone.”