VATICAN CITY (KABC) -- The American cardinals in Rome for the conclave to elect the next pope canceled their daily press briefings on Wednesday after word of possible leaks.
The decision comes after some details of the secret proceedings under way ahead of the election were purportedly revealed to Italian newspapers.
The Vatican denied putting any pressure on the American cardinals to keep quiet. However, Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi said 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," Lombardi said.
Sister Mary Ann Walsh, the spokeswoman for the American cardinals, said Wednesday's briefing was canceled after other cardinals expressed concern in the morning "about leaks of confidential proceedings reported in Italian newspapers."
Walsh said all interviews had been canceled as a precaution. The Vatican has asked the cardinals to stop talking to the media.
She told the Associated Press that 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.
She dismissed speculation that the Vatican and cardinals from other countries simply didn't appreciate the openness of the Americans, saying, "I don't think anyone was angry at the Americans. They were angry at La Stampa." She added that the Americans had been assured that the Vatican was pleased with their briefings.