The Vatican has accused the Italian media of spreading "false and damaging" reports in what it condemned as a deplorable attempt to influence cardinals who will meet in a secret conclave next month to elect a new pope.
Pope Benedict XV's resignation which surprised many in the church takes effect on 28 February. He is the first pope to resign in almost 600 years.
Since the announcement Italian newspapers have been full of rumours about conspiracies, secret reports and lobbies in the Vatican that they say pushed the pope to abdicate, Reuters reports.
In a statement the Vatican said it was deplorable that, "as we draw closer to the time of the beginning of the conclave ... that there be a widespread distribution of often unverified, unverifiable or completely false news stories that cause serious damage to persons and institutions."
Some Church officials, speaking privately, have said foreign cardinals coming to Rome to choose the next pope have been alarmed over reports of corruption and might be inclined to elect someone not connected with the central administration, known as the Curia, which is predominantly Italian.
The Vatican statement said the Italian media reports were an attempt to influence the outcome of the conclave through negative public opinion much like states and kings tried to influence papal elections centuries ago.
The Repubblica newspaper has run a series of unsourced stories about the alleged contents of a secret report prepared for the pope by a commission of three cardinals who investigated the so-called Vatileaks scandal last year.
Paolo Gabriele, the pope's butler, was convicted of stealing personal papal documents and leaking them to the media. He was jailed and later pardoned by the pope.
The documents alleged corruption in the Vatican and infighting over the running of its bank, which has been at the heart of a series of scandals in past decades.
On Friday the Vatican denied Italian media reports that Benedict's decision to send a senior official to a new post in Latin America was because he figured in a secret report about leaked papal papers.