Vatican Butler Arrested in Documents Leak

By Sarah Delaney
Los Angeles Times
May 25, 2012,0,3989685.story

Paolo Gabriele, a butler in Pope Benedict XVI's household, sits next to him in the popemobile as they arrive in St. Peter's Square in April. Vatican police arrested Gabriele on Friday on suspicion of leaking confidential documents and letters from the pontiff's private study. (Vincenzo Pinto / AFP/Getty Images / April 18, 2012)

As it turns out, the butler did it. At least that's who the papal police force believes is responsible for the recent leaks of personal papal correspondence that has shed unwanted light on power struggles and alleged corruption within the headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church.

Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said Friday that the internal police had arrested a man who worked in the Vatican on suspicion of pilfering and leaking private documents belonging to Pope Benedict XVI. The unauthorized release of private papal documents is unprecedented, at least in recent memory, piercing the veil of legendary Vatican secrecy.

Italian news reports identified the suspect as Paolo Gabriele, a butler in the papal household who, as a personal servant of Pope Benedict, would have had direct access to his belongings.

Benedict said he was "saddened and struck" by the news of the arrest, according to news reports.

The arrest followed several months of revelations of letters to the pope and others, written by various figures, that indicate conflict among the factions within Vatican City's massive walls.

Documents that refer to alleged corruption and misuse of funds in Vatican City management, as well as divergent views on efforts to clean up the Vatican bank, were reproduced in a book published last week by journalist Gianluigi Nuzzi, titled "Sua Santita: Le Carte Segrete di Benedetto XVI" ("His Holiness: The Secret Papers of Benedict XVI").

Nuzzi, who first revealed the secret correspondence in January, would not say in a television interview Friday whether Gabriele was the person who passed him copies of the documents.

The arrest came a day after the president of the Vatican bank, the Institute of Religious Works, or IOR, was shown the door by its lay oversight committee.

The Vatican issued an unusually blunt statement Thursday saying that overseers unanimously agreed that Italian banker Ettore Gotti Tedeschi had not carried out "the primary functions of his office" and that deteriorating governance at the bank had generated "increasing worries."

Gotti Tedeschi told Italian news media that to defend himself he would be forced to say "ugly things" and that he would instead hold back because of his regard for Benedict.

The authenticity of the papal documents was essentially confirmed when officials strongly condemned the publication of confidential correspondence, prompting the formation of two commissions to find the culprit, including one composed of cardinals.

In many cases, the letters illustrate conflicts with the second-most-powerful man in the Vatican, Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone.

They indicate that Bertone clashed with Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, who was assigned by Benedict to govern the Vatican city-state and clean it up but who was reassigned against his will last year to the top diplomatic post in Washington.

The letters also call attention to an alleged divergence of opinion between Bertone and Gotti Tedeschi on the IOR's path to greater transparency, undertaken in recent years after a massive scandal in the 1980s that tied the bank to the fraudulent bankruptcy of a large Italian bank and the associated intrigue, which included homicide, Mafia connections and secret accounts.

Gotti Tedeschi was called in nearly three years ago to guide the IOR in its efforts to get on the "white list" of financial institutions that adhere to strict international rules of transparency designed to combat the flow of laundered money to terrorists or drug traffickers.

A meeting between officials from the Vatican and Moneyval, a European body charged with assessing the transparency of banks, is scheduled for July.








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