The Obama administration has been accused of spying on Archbishop Jorge Mario Bergoglio, the future Popr Francis, “before and during the Vatican conclave at which he was chosen to succeed Benedict XVI,” the UK Telegraph reports, citing the Italian magazine Panorama. The National Security Agency is alleged to have monitored the cardinals’ telephone calls as part of a spy program targeting foreign leaders.
U.S. officials attempted to blunt some of the controversy surrounding these accusations by revealing that millions of telephone records had been collected by France and Spain and handed over to the NSA, the Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday. However, that surveillance was separate from the spying carried out by the NSA against foreign leaders, which was revealed by NSA leaker and fugitive Edward Snowden.
Although Obama still enjoys favorable approval ratings in Europe, that approval has fallen somewhat, and the NSA scandal is likely to sink it further. The German daily Die Zeit led this week with the headline, “Goodbye, Freunde [Friends]” and an image of a broken heart, with one half bearing the U.S. flag and the other bearing the German flag. The Obama administration is also increasingly critical of German economic policy.