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. Katherine

    Babylon GET OUT, the humans are rightfully taking over their home planet. Illuminati, your time is UP! we are all awakening big time!

    August 13, 2012 at 1:46 pm |
  2. Casey

    Down with Babylon the Great and the Harlot!!! Down with false religion!!!!! Down with Idolitors, Fornicators, Hypocrites, Thieves, Liars, Murderers!!!!!

    August 13, 2012 at 1:42 pm |
  3. gopherhawk

    In my opinion: The Catholic Church (aka "THE Vatican") has been corrupt for thousands of years. They will never change. They own there own country so they can use Nazi tactics by taking to court,shun and discredit anybody who reveals the truth about there medival policies. The Vatacin have openly protected phedophile priests for years and continue to do nothing to improve there system of corruption. They discredit women who speak up and challenge the status quo and run the church like organized crime. Sadly they continue to floursih like nothings wrong buy silencing and denouncing anybody who points out their arrogant ways. If any other churchs or organization in this country operated that way, they would be at least investigated (Penn State) and probably shut down within a year. But if you own your own country you can be corrupt has you want to be under the sacred blanket of Catholic Religion.

    August 13, 2012 at 1:35 pm |
  4. Hhfyuv

    They practice traditions of paganism teach false doctrines that are not in harmony with the scriptures and they have a very long and old track record of misleading many their time is coming according to revelations.

    August 13, 2012 at 1:33 pm |
  5. Prayer changes things

    Catholic Church is truly evil

    August 13, 2012 at 1:33 pm |
  6. SImran


    In the 1970s, pedo.philia was theorized as something fully in conformity with man and even with children," the pope said. "It was maintained – even within the realm of Catholic theology – that there is no such thing as evil in itself or good in itself. There is only a 'better than' and a 'worse than.' Nothing is good or bad in itself."

    August 13, 2012 at 1:29 pm |
  7. jen

    Secrets at the Vatican?? Imagine that!

    August 13, 2012 at 1:28 pm |
  8. lewisbreland

    Isn't it fascinating that no one will be prosecuted for child abuse or for its cover up but this man will be brought to trial for leaking Vatican papers?

    August 13, 2012 at 1:28 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Actually several people have been prosecuted for both abuses and cover ups. Some have been found guilty, some have not. Sorry this doesn't mesh with your prejudice.

      August 13, 2012 at 2:55 pm |
    • nadinesh

      That's not a prejudice!! That's just common sense. The bigoted one in this conversation appears to be you, since you are clearly ready to leave the pederasty scandals where they lay - with many high-ranking Churchmen untouched by justice. You could say they were gullible or stupid - I think they were just corrupt. But you're all alone out there if you believe (and such a belief could only be the result of prejudice) that the malefactors have been brought to justice in the child molestation scandals.

      August 13, 2012 at 5:38 pm |
  9. John

    I understand that what he did was wrong, but what about the Pope himself. Show me one member of the Hitler Youth that didn't participate in some sort of criminal behavior as a member. I know he says he never wanted to join. To that I say bull...

    August 13, 2012 at 1:27 pm |
    • Scott

      Membership in the Hitler Youth was completely compulsory. If you didn't join, you and your family would get a visit from the Gestapo. If you were a teen in Germany in the 1940s, you'd have been a member of the Hitler Youth yourself, and there would have been very little you could do to avoid it. If you tried not to, you'd have been turned in by the people around you even before the bureaucracy got around to checking your status. There's plenty you can call the current Pope out on that he chose to do, so why do people need to call him out for the one thing he really did have no reasonable choice about?

      August 13, 2012 at 1:57 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      @Scott, Because the point is not whether they are right or wrong. The point is ATTACK ATTACK!

      August 13, 2012 at 2:56 pm |
  10. Carroll

    Yup if there was never such a thing as the bible and the Koran or any such books then people would have nothing to fight for.

    August 13, 2012 at 1:23 pm |
  11. Shakingmyhead

    Pharaees and vipers.

    August 13, 2012 at 1:13 pm |
  12. Smacky Smooth

    Too much power corrupts mankind. The Pope is not the Saviour nor God. Unfortunate that opens him up to alot of inadequecies. I hope the butler is let off w/ lenience. CATHOLIC CHURCH has proved in the past 100 yrs that they cannot be trusted and they believe God mandates their privacy.

    Question: WHAT WAS PRIVATE ABOUT JESUS'S MINISTRY. You should all bow down in shame and repentance you power hungry greedy politico bas***.

    August 13, 2012 at 1:13 pm |
  13. prophet

    Anyway, after all this, i ask for Forgiveness for the catholic clergy and hope that one day they will repent and turn to God from their sinning and become decent people. Many a seemingly bad person has become throgh repentance a light unto the world.

    August 13, 2012 at 1:09 pm |
  14. beall

    How quickly they can act when they want to....

    August 13, 2012 at 1:03 pm |
  15. Tiny

    Pope, whatever happen to forgiveness? God would have forgive them ALL. Damn, lucky I cannot be fooled by these morons...

    August 13, 2012 at 1:03 pm |
  16. prophet

    sources tell me that Mr ratzinger always wanted to be an actor, i think he acheived his career goal don't you

    August 13, 2012 at 12:59 pm |
  17. genebrady

    Religion and money are at the core of all evil.

    August 13, 2012 at 12:59 pm |
  18. the breeze

    When some zealot wants someone to become a Saint,they just go out and fabricate 3 miricles? The last Pope all of a sudden was involved in 3 Miricles???? Never heard a thing about them when he was alive???

    August 13, 2012 at 12:54 pm |
  19. prophet

    have you seen how on the vatican website they ahve altered the picture of Mt ratzinger to amke him look like the other pope and so to make him more popular, i wonder why and does this show the insecurities of the vatican and its clergy.

    August 13, 2012 at 12:52 pm |
  20. the breeze

    For Centuries these HOLY MEN have caused the deaths of MILLIONS

    August 13, 2012 at 12:52 pm |
    • Shakingmyhead

      You will get no argument from me about that!

      August 13, 2012 at 1:15 pm |
    • TheThinker

      Deaths of millions? ... do you mean "didn't stand up to Hitler (Haulocaust) or King Ferdinand (Inquisition)?
      True, they didn't have the cajones... but neither do you. Neither would I. Come on, it's Hitler we're talking about.
      Not sure the Church actually went out and killed anyone though.

      August 13, 2012 at 1:46 pm |
    • Scott

      Yes, and so has everyone else. Atheists, Muslims, even Buddhists have persecuted and killed people for their own personal aims. If you think religion is the cause of all of these things, you need to learn more about human nature. The day religion disappears is the day humans merely change their reasons for hating the other people over the hill.

      It's all about us vs. them. Even if there was no such thing as God or gods, if you followed many religions the way they were actually set up, the world would be a better place, not a worse one. This is because most of them espouse the Golden Rule, for one thing. The people who don't follow the rules are just naming themselves as Muslims or Christians or whatever. Anyone can do that. That is why I don't throw the good people in with the hypocrites, they may well believe in fairy tales, but they're trying to be better people, unlike the rest of the people who could care less.

      August 13, 2012 at 2:09 pm |
    • PedosWorstNightmare

      in-reply to TheThinker: Don't be ignorant. My grandfather marched through Europe during WWII. He was definitely not a fan of religion, what would you have to say to him? NOTHING, because he would knock you on your a__ . Also, learn to spell, idiot.

      August 13, 2012 at 2:09 pm |
    • nadinesh

      To be fair, Thinker, quite apart from the massacres of innocent natives in the New World, condoned and supported by the Church, and the burning to death of heretics, the murder of Jews and Muslims, the Inquisition, there is the little matter of the very real cooperation of higher-ups in the Italian Church in obtaining Red Cross visas for thousands of Nazi war criminals after the War, enabling them to emigrate to Argentina and avoid prosecution. It is one of the most shameful episodes in the Church's recent history - and it takes some magnitude to stand out against all that. Those war criminals went on to murder thousands more - Argentines this time.

      August 13, 2012 at 5:43 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.