Italian daily newspaper La Repubblica published an article on Thursday claiming that Pope Benedict XVI’s decision to resign was in part finalised by a Vatican report showing that the Holy See was affected by outside influences, including a “gay lobby”.

Pope Benedict announced on 11 February that he would resign at the end of the month, citing a decline in mental and physical ability as his reason for giving up the taxing position.

According to the Irish Times, the La Repubblica newspaper, which says it received the information from an unnamed Vatican source, claims that Pope Benedict commissioned a report in response to the so-called Vatileaks scandal of last year.

It culminated with the arrest and subsequent conviction of the Pope’s butler, Paolo Gabriele, found guilty of having stolen confidential documents from the papal apartment.

The report was carried out by Cardinals Julian Herranz, Josef Tomko and Salvatore De Giorgi, however, when Pope Benedict XVI finally read the results on 17 December, it hardened his resolve to step down as leader of the Catholic Church, in a landmark resignation the likes of which had not been seen by the Church in 600 years.

The report is said to say that there was widespread breaking of commandments within the Holy See, in particular the seventh commandment, “thou shalt not steal”, and the sixth, “thou shalt not commit adultery”.

The breaking of the seventh commandment was blamed on a “gay lobby” influencing the Holy See to commit sexual offences.

It referred to the “worldly nature” and “outside influence” of the lobby.

La Repubblica suggested that the lobby could be linked to the 2010 Vatican scandal in which a papal gentleman-in-waiting was found to be using male prostitutes.

Later that year another scandal arose when three priests were allegedly filmed having casual sex and visiting gay nightclubs.

The Vatican has refused to comment on the allegations.