Pope's butler leaked papers to shock 'corrupt' Church, prosecutor says
August 13th, 2012
05:48 AM ET

Pope's butler leaked papers to shock 'corrupt' Church, prosecutor says

By Richard Allen Greene and Hada Messia, CNN

Pope Benedict XVI's butler will be tried on an aggravated theft charge over the leaking of hundreds of secret papers from the pope's personal apartment to an Italian journalist, a Vatican spokesman said Monday.

The butler, Paolo Gabriele, acted out of a desire to combat "evil and corruption everywhere in the Church," according to a prosecutor in the case.

"I was certain that a shock ... would have been healthy to bring the church back onto the right track," the prosecutor, Nicola Piccardi, wrote in a report released Monday by the Vatican.

A second man, Vatican IT expert Claudio Sciarpelletti, will be charged with aiding Gabriele, according to the Rev. Federico Lombardi, a Vatican spokesman.

Sciarpelletti is not suspected of conspiring with Gabriele, merely assisting him, and is not under arrest, Lombardi said.

The investigation is continuing, said Lombardi, raising the possibility of more arrests.

The trials are not expected to start before September 20, Lombardi said.

Gabriele, one of the pope's closest personal assistants, was arrested in May on suspicion of passing the papers to an Italian journalist. He faces the possibility of one to six years behind bars, Lombardi said.

The scandal has rocked the Catholic Church hierarchy and could even affect who becomes the next pope.

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It could be an effort to unseat Benedict's secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, who will run the conclave to choose the next pope if he is in office when Benedict dies, according to the Rev. Thomas Reese, author of "Inside the Vatican."

Gabriele was held in a special Vatican cell for about a month and a half before being released to house arrest in July.

The Vatican said Gabriele cooperated with investigators and admits leaking the papers, which consisted of faxes, letters and memos, including some from a high-ranking church official expressing concerns about corruption within the Vatican.

The arrest followed a top-level Vatican investigation into how the private documents appeared in the best-selling book "Sua Santita" ("His Holiness") by Italian journalist Gianluigi Nuzzi.

The Vatican called the publication of his book "criminal" when it was released in Italian.

Copies of some documents used in the book were found in the butler's apartment, according to the judge's report released Monday.

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Gabriele was not paid for handing over the papers, according to the judge, Piero Antonio Bonnet.

Cardinal Julian Herranz got a "pontifical mandate" in April to uncover the source of hundreds of personal letters and confidential documents that made their way to Nuzzi.

Nuzzi would not confirm the identity of his sources, but he told CNN that his primary source - whom he referred to as "Maria" in his book - "risked life and limb" if ever found out.

The source worked inside the Vatican, according to Nuzzi, who refused to give other details such as the source's gender, age and if he or she was clergy.

Nuzzi's book highlights an internal power struggle within the Vatican through numerous documents, including faxes, personal letters and inter-Vatican memos. He told CNN that he received the documents during a year of private meetings in secret locations.

The Vatican has not denied the authenticity of the documents but instead says the breach of privacy is a criminal act.

–Journalist Barbie Nadeau in Rome contributed to this report.

- Newsdesk editor, The CNN Wire

Filed under: Belief • Catholic Church • Pope Benedict XVI • Scandal • Vatican

soundoff (654 Responses)
  1. Ex-Religio

    By what right does any religion have the authority to try, much less imprison, a human being? What we've seen here is kidnapping, now followed by a kangaroo court. The RC church looks like organized crime to me, with Ratzinger as the capo de tutti capi.

    August 13, 2012 at 7:59 am |
    • Tempered Response

      You do realize that Vatican City is a sovereign state, right?

      August 13, 2012 at 8:03 am |
    • TXZag

      Vatican City is not simply a spiritual city, it is also an independent state, just like italy, France, or Germany. Vatican state has a civil code, just like any other state. The Vatican therefore has the authority and responsibility to conduct judicial hearings for breaches of civil law.

      August 13, 2012 at 8:10 am |
    • Ex-Religio

      The Vatican was recognized as sovereign by Benito Mussolini. It is no more a sovereign state than a corporate manufacturing facility is. We don't allow Monsanto, or GM or Caterpillar to imprison people on their properties do we? The RC Church is an incorporation, it owns land in the Italian capital, nothing more. What we have here is a fascist claim of statehood, a state which does not exist. There is no US Ambassador to the Vatican since we do not recognize it as a sovereign state. Look it up.

      August 13, 2012 at 8:24 am |
    • Chick-a-dee

      Vatican City State is the only sovereign state with general international recognition that is not a United Nations member. A state can only be admitted to the UN by the approval of the Security Council and the General Assembly. A number of states that may be considered sovereign states according to the Montevideo Convention criteria are not members because the UN does not consider them to possess sovereignty, mainly due to the lack of international recognition or opposition from certain members. Vatican City State was established in 1929 by the Lateran Treaty between the Kingdom of Italy and the Holy See. Vatican City State is distinct from the Holy See. Vatican City State is distinct from the Holy See and is governed as an absolute monarchy.

      Learn about Vatican City State at:


      The Holy See, which holds sovereignty over the state of Vatican City maintains diplomatic relations with other states. It is the episcopal jurisdiction of the Catholic Church It has been a UN permanent observer state since 1964. In 2004, it gained all the rights of full membership in the United Nations with the exception of voting.

      Learn about the Holy See at:


      @Ex-Religio: Our country has had a long history with the Church with which you are apparently unaware.

      The United States established consular relations with the Papal States, whose capital was Rome, in March 1797. Relations were reciprocated at the same consular level in 1826 when the Papal States established a consulate in New York City.

      In 1867 Congress prohibited the financing of any diplomatic post to the Papal authority. The United States did not have a diplomatic representative to the Pope for the next 72 years.

      Despite strong anti-Catholicism in the U.S., on December 24, 1939 President Franklin D Roosevelt announced his intention to send a personal representative to the Pope. He appointed Myron Taylor to this position.

      Upon arriving in Rome, Mr. Taylor was regarded as the US Ambassador and served for ten years, covering the World War II period. Taylor had access to the Pope and top Vatican officials. His office was a source of important information to the United States. He was able to influence the Holy See in 1945 to recognize the dangers of the communist Soviet Union expansion.

      When President Reagan announced the establishment of formal diplomatic relations with the Holy See on January 10, 1984, he appointed William A. Wilson, who had been serving as his personal representative to the Pope, as the first US Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Holy See. The current Ambassador of the United States to the Holy See is Dr. Miguel Humberto Diaz.

      The depth and breadth of your ignorance is astounding. Perhaps you should "look it up" before you post anything else.

      August 13, 2012 at 10:28 am |
    • Ex-Religio


      What you've missed in your cut-and-paste word salad is the simple fact that the US does not recognize the Vatican as a State. The Holy See != the Vatican. We do not recognize that it exercises jurisprudence in its territory.

      It's kind of like we recognize the State of Israel, but do not recognize Jerusalem as its capital, even though the Israelis say it is. (Kind of, not exactly.) The point is, like in that case, the distinction is crucial. We do not recognize that the Vatican is a sovereign state that can incarcerate and try people for common crimes. That is within Italy's purview. The Vatican's incarceration of the butler is extrajudicial, it's essentially kidnapping. Any punishment meted out by a Vatican court would (and should) be considered as illegal as any punishment directed by La Cosa Nostra.

      August 13, 2012 at 2:28 pm |
  2. Ya'akov the Traditional Jew.

    Oh, my, this is priceless! Whodunit? The Butler did it! Irony! The Pope, with more power over people than most governments, gets betrayed by his own Butler? How unimaginative and cliched is that? It would be a third rate mystery novel, but in real life gives the pundits and SNL a full season's worth of grist for the mill. Irony, says I, irony!

    August 13, 2012 at 7:59 am |
  3. mfx3

    What about forgiveness? Not that imo he did anything wrong...

    August 13, 2012 at 7:55 am |
    • TXZag

      Forgiveness in a western context is a farce. We'd rather pursue retribution and punishment. Try asking this same question when the charges are more serious and see what kind of response you get. "I'll forgive you, but give me my pound of flesh, first!"

      August 13, 2012 at 8:14 am |
  4. prophet

    evil people these catholic clergy, they hide their evil, wolves dressed as sheep.

    August 13, 2012 at 7:54 am |
    • Chick-a-dee

      Apparently, anti-Catholicism in the U.S. began before 1867 and is still alive.

      August 13, 2012 at 10:36 am |
  5. prophet

    do you know what a real siant is,

    Someone who dared to do good

    August 13, 2012 at 7:51 am |
  6. htchow

    "a month and a half" in the hands of the inquisitors. The man will confess to anything.

    August 13, 2012 at 7:48 am |
    • Robert Powell PhD


      The Pope calls his followers 'Sheep' and 'Sheep led to ignorance' they are. Wake up - this is NOT what Jesus wanted!

      August 13, 2012 at 7:56 am |
    • rats

      So you think the were hard on him.

      August 13, 2012 at 7:59 am |
  7. prophet

    even St Paul says that do not belong to any religion that does not allow its clergy to marry. But this was made so that the catholic clergy could all have unatural relationships with each other.

    August 13, 2012 at 7:47 am |
  8. Whome

    Butler, I thought one of the things you were to live by as a priest was poverty, I guess the higher you move up in the chain of command theses things fall by the wayside.

    August 13, 2012 at 7:46 am |
    • SurRy

      The poverty vow is only for nuns – you know, the women folk. The guys can wear all the satin dresses, gowns, sashes, hats and slippers they want.

      August 13, 2012 at 8:06 am |
    • rats

      Prada and the gold chains ain't plate.

      August 13, 2012 at 8:15 am |
    • TXZag

      Not true, SurRy, there are a number of male monastic orders that also make vows of poverty.

      August 13, 2012 at 8:19 am |
    • Chick-a-dee

      Whether or not a religious or clergy takes a vow of poverty is dependent upon the order to which they belong.

      August 13, 2012 at 10:38 am |
  9. Kebos

    "The Vatican called the publication of his book "criminal" when it was released in Italian."

    Of course, the buggery of thousands of young boys by priests is not and they'll try to just cover it up and hope the problem just goes away.

    August 13, 2012 at 7:45 am |
  10. rachel

    I am smiling. They go after the butler but not the pedophile priests. Why don't they just shift the butler around to another city? lol

    August 13, 2012 at 7:45 am |
    • TXZag

      Kind of like going after the nuns here in the U.S. The Church heirarchy lost all kinds of credibility with that stunt.

      August 13, 2012 at 8:21 am |
  11. prophet

    Our Saviour came to Save us from religion.

    August 13, 2012 at 7:42 am |
  12. prophet

    the bizarre thing is that the supporters of the syrian regime in syrian are chrsitians

    August 13, 2012 at 7:41 am |
    • 0G-No gods, ghosts, goblins or ghouls

      It's all about being and staying in power.

      August 13, 2012 at 7:42 am |
    • Chick-a-dee

      @ prophet: Please post your information source. I haven't been closely following the Syrian conflict in the news but I thought this was another clash between Islamic sects. Which Christians in Syria are you talking about?

      The Church has this to say about this branch of the Eastern Rite of the Catholic Church:

      "Syriac Catholics who returned to Rome in 1781 from the monophysite heresy. Syriac Patriarch of Antioch. The 110,000 Syriac Catholics are found in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Egypt, Canada and the US."

      Do you really think that with 110,000 scattered between six different countries they are really in a position to be influential supporters of anything in the geopolitical arena?


      August 13, 2012 at 10:59 am |
  13. veep

    funny, they're surrounded by Criminal Pedophiles, but they'll all go free, while you go after the Butler!?

    Where is Cardinal Law of Boston?!

    y'all understand how far gone your integrity is?

    August 13, 2012 at 7:38 am |
    • LarryB

      Yeah, they get ALL worked up about this, but priests abusing boys? Ho hum!

      August 13, 2012 at 7:56 am |
  14. prophet

    they are very quick to charge someone with what he was doing whcih was correct by exposing the evil of the catholic clergy and yet they avoid persecution under the very same legal syetm isn't this the hypocrisy of the catholic clergy and religion. They should take the log out of their own eye before thye see the problem in someone elses..

    And yet in the Bible that thye say thye follow it says forgive your brother and resolve things before they get to the legal system especially a secular system.

    The catholic clergy are sons of satan as Our Saviour Said, they are liars and cheats and hypocrites and are doing only harm to peopele

    August 13, 2012 at 7:37 am |
    • Chick-a-dee

      "they are very quick to charge someone with what he was doing whcih was correct by exposing the evil of the catholic clergy and yet they avoid persecution under the very same legal syetm isn't this the hypocrisy of the catholic clergy and religion. They should take the log out of their own eye before thye see the problem in someone elses.."

      The Vatican City State is able to charge someone with crimes committed in their country not any other country. The Italian government actually prosecutes crimes that are charged by the Vatican. As the head of state the Pope has the ability to issue pardons for crimes committed in the Vatican. As the Bishop of Rome he can grant absolution under the sacrament of reconciliation.

      And yet in the Bible that thye say thye follow it says forgive your brother and resolve things before they get to the legal system especially a secular system.

      Under whose authority was this translated to mean that temporal punishment should not be issued for criminal acts?

      The catholic clergy are sons of satan as Our Saviour Said, they are liars and cheats and hypocrites and are doing only harm to peopele

      He said no such thing. The Catholic Church was founded by Jesus himself.

      In concert with His redemptive act, Jesus did three things that established the framework of His Church. First, He chose humans to carry out His work. He appointed Peter to be the visible head of the Church. Jesus said to Peter, "You are Rock and on this rock I will build my Church." (Matthew 16: 18) Jesus said "build," as in to create a structure. Jesus built His structure on specifically chosen human beings Peter and the apostles.

      Second, Jesus gave Peter and the apostles the power and authority to carry out His work. "Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven."(Matthew 16:19; 18:18) "Receive the Holy Spirit, whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven, whose sins you retain, they are retained."(John 20:23)

      Third, Jesus gave Peter and the apostles commands as to what that work should be. At the last supper, He commanded, "Do this in memory of Me." (Luke 22:19) He commanded them to "Make disciples of all nations" (Matthew 28:19), and to "Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature." (Mark 16:15)

      The early Church was structured in a hierarchical manner as it is today. We see in Acts, chapter 15 how the apostles and the elders came together under the leadership of St. Peter to decide the question of what was required of Gentiles. We also see how St. Peter was regarded as the head of the Church when St. Paul, "Went up to Jerusalem to confer with Kephas [Peter] and remained with him fifteen days." (Galatians 1:18) There is no Scriptural evidence of independent local churches.

      The Catholic Church is the only church that can claim to have been founded by Christ personally. Every other church traces its lineage back to a mere human person such as Martin Luther or John Wesley. The Catholic Church can trace its lineage back to Jesus Christ who appointed St. Peter as the first pope. This line of popes has continued unbroken for almost 2,000 years.

      God rules, instructs and sanctifies His people through His Church. Under her teaching office, the Catholic Church preserves the Word of God. She is the custodian, keeper, dispenser and interpreter of teachings of Christ. And she accomplishes this under the protection of the Holy Spirit.

      August 13, 2012 at 11:12 am |
  15. Johnson

    I hope the Butler talks and Ben suffers because of it.

    August 13, 2012 at 7:35 am |
    • Chick-a-dee

      You publicly hope for the suffering of another human being? This pretty much says everything anyone else needs to know about you.

      Forgiveness of others frees yourself.

      August 13, 2012 at 11:16 am |
  16. mschipperheyn

    So, there's an internal power struggle. What else is new. Why is this so explosive? Any little boys involved?

    August 13, 2012 at 7:29 am |
  17. truegrowthpotential

    There are so many choices!!!

    Who do we trust? Who do we trust?

    WikiLeaks? The Pope's butler?

    August 13, 2012 at 7:23 am |
  18. doctore0

    They must forgive him... there is no other way.

    They can find solace in that Gawd will torture this poor man for all eternity.. The Gawd of love

    August 13, 2012 at 6:22 am |
  19. Clausen

    *Sigh* Here come the atheists to post how "The vatican is evil." or "The pope molests small boys." Why do they always feel the need to post on religion related articles? Are they going to convert believers into nonbelievers with their witty comments that they spent a several minutes coming up with?

    August 13, 2012 at 6:05 am |
    • Peters pence

      Have you noticed that trolls such as the one below Atheism is...and HeavenSent, etc. use this blog to attack our views that the gods that you believe in are just manmade fictions. We have the right to respond in kind, don't you think? Lets make a deal, remove the trolls that attack us and we will be more tolerant of your views or do you believe that would restrict free speech, a right we all have.

      August 13, 2012 at 7:06 am |
    • God is here NOW!

      God is **NOT** man-made fiction.

      The concept "God is love"...now that's a real whopper of man-made fiction.

      August 13, 2012 at 7:27 am |
    • Clausen

      Deal. I'll just ask them nicely to stop trolling.

      August 13, 2012 at 7:27 am |
    • Kebos

      An atheist is not out to convert anyone. We could care less. There is nothing to gain unlike the religious who will try.

      Atheists merely enjoys pointing out the ridiculous and illogical weak-minded premise of religion. All religions.

      August 13, 2012 at 7:49 am |
    • Peters pence

      I will take the asking them nicely to stop as sarcasim, many have tried and failed. The trolls do serve the purpose of showing people with doubts how dangerous extreme belief in anything can effect the mind.

      @God is here Now
      Gods come and gods go, it is like a popularity contest, of course even the old timey gods still exsist in the books/stories that created them. Love being a human emotion does not need a god around to make it real. If you need to look for love in an imaginary friend/saviour, you may want to seek a little help.

      August 13, 2012 at 7:51 am |
    • WASP

      @god is here: the concept of "god" was a way for early humans to explain why lightning/ drought/ famine/ etc etc etc happened seeing they lacked the knowledge to be able to understand such natural events. as humans advanced and became more knowledgible of natural events, we had to find a new task for "god" to control and the only area left open for a "god" was the concept that our consience would exsist beyond this life, aka a soul to explain why we needed a god........as time progresses humans will eventually shed the need for a higher power and step into the light of own responcibility, not governed obedience.

      August 13, 2012 at 7:52 am |
    • Jeff

      Try differentiating, in this case the Catholic church, the faith side from the business and political side. To assume that because it is a faith based organization that the latter will be open, honest and truthful is ignorant. The Pope is elected. It is an organization made up of people, almost exclusively men who have egos and personal agendas.Don't thick that just because they have a religious affiliation that they are without fault (see Bernard Law, former Cardinal who the Vatican still shelters in Rome).

      August 13, 2012 at 7:56 am |
    • SurRy

      Nah, I think they are trying to point out the hypocrisy and lunacy of it all.

      August 13, 2012 at 8:03 am |
  20. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things

    August 13, 2012 at 5:53 am |
    • veep


      August 13, 2012 at 7:40 am |
    • God Himself

      prayer only helps the helpless.....religion is for fools and the uneducated....everyone knows this is nowhere!

      August 13, 2012 at 8:02 am |
    • Jesus

      Prayer does not; you are such a LIAR. You have NO proof it changes anything! A great example of prayer proven not to work is the Christians in jail because prayer didn't work and their children died. For example: Susan Grady, who relied on prayer to heal her son. Nine-year-old Aaron Grady died and Susan Grady was arrested.

      An article in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing from 1975 to 1995. They concluded that four out of five ill children, who died under the care of faith healers or being left to prayer only, would most likely have survived if they had received medical care.

      The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs!

      August 13, 2012 at 11:15 am |
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