As the cartoon states, Italian media have linked the Pope's abdication to his receiving a 300-page report on what is called the Vatileaks scandal, a report which will be turned over to whomever gets to be the next heir of St. Peter. A report in La Repubblica alleges that Vatican clergy would meet clandestinely for partying and sexual encounters with men, some of them prostitutes, at such venues as a villa outside Rome, a sauna in a Rome suburb, a beauty parlor in city center, and a former university residence that was in use by a provincial Italian archbishop. As relayed to us Anglophones by the Guardian of Great Britain:
The paper said the pope had taken the decision on 17 December that he was going to resign – the day he received a dossier compiled by three cardinals delegated to look into the so-called "Vatileaks" affair. ...According to La Repubblica, the dossier comprising "two volumes of almost 300 pages – bound in red" had been consigned to a safe in the papal apartments and would be delivered to the pope's successor upon his election. The newspaper said the cardinals described a number of factions, including one whose members were "united by sexual orientation".Panorama magazine followed up with NSFW video footage from their own undercover investigation:
In an apparent quotation from the report, La Repubblica said some Vatican officials had been subject to "external influence" from laymen with whom they had links of a "worldly nature". The paper said this was a clear reference to blackmail.
It quoted a source "very close to those who wrote [the cardinal's report]" as saying: "Everything revolves around the non-observance of the sixth and seventh commandments."
The first [priest], a Frenchman about 35 years old, met the Panorama reporter Friday, July 2, at a gay party in a local neighborhood of Testaccio. In the evening, which included paid escort two men who danced naked with the priest and with other guests (then having sex with some of them), was also Charles, the second priest, who was aged between 45 and 50 years. The night ended at the home of Paul, where the reporter's gay accomplice asked the priest to wear the cassock and then had sex with him, filmed by hidden camera.In this cartoon, Benedict takes the place of this guy at right in Michelangelo's "The Last Judgment" on the Sistine Chapel ceiling:
The next night, Paul and Charles made an appointment with the Panorama reporter and his accomplice in the Gay Village in Rome, showing that they are comfortable in that environment. On this occasion, Charles was absent, having claimed several times to have had to do to avoid meeting those whom he had recognized as other priests or catechists. ... The next day, Sunday, July 4, Paul celebrated Mass on a table in his own home, in the presence of the Panorama reporter and his accomplice.
It is said that this guy represents Despair, or a person who is surprised to discover that he didn't live as good a life as he perhaps thought he did. Of all the damned souls on the right side of the painting, he is perhaps the most sympathetically rendered, although I've never read anything to suggest that Michelangelo had a specific person in mind (unlike several other faces in the painting). You'll find him below and to the right of St. Bartholemew, whose flayed skin is said to represent Michelangelo himself.
My dilemma artistically was that Mr. Despair is surrounded by a whole lot of open space, so I ended up moving several elements of Michelangelo's masterpiece into the cartoon frame from other places in the painting. The boatload of damned souls, for example, is from well below the character whose left buttock appears on the right side of this detail image.