The Vatican on Friday dismissed as delirious an Italian newspaper report that said Pope Benedict would be assassinated within 12 months.

This is obviously delirious raving that cannot be taken seriously in any way, said Father Federico Lombardi, the Vatican's chief spokesman.

The newspaper Il Fatto Quotidiano ran a front-page story, picked up by Italian state television, that said a cardinal wrote a secret note to a superior in the Vatican that he had heard about a plot to kill the pope within a year.

The paper also said the same cardinal had predicted that the next pope would be an Italian. Benedict, who was elected in 2005, is German.

(Reporting By Philip Pullella; Editing by Myra MacDonald)