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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. jim

    If he didn't sign a none disclosure he should be considered a hero, but if he did sign one then he should be punished. But criminal? Really?

    Europe has some stupid laws.

    August 13, 2012 at 3:13 pm |
    • hinduism source of hindufilthyracism.

      No one has authority over truth absolute, nor one can make any one sign it off neither one is compelled to uphold any agreement to hide truth absolute by any law. agreement in hinduism, illegality have no legal value, such as agreements between hindu criminal families of hindu criminal Mafia boss's.

      August 13, 2012 at 3:19 pm |
  2. old ben

    gosh, wouldn't it be strange if the butler didn't realize that in his leaked docs there was evidence of an under the table agreement with the mitt and the pope about his choice for vp? just wondering. . .

    August 13, 2012 at 3:08 pm |
    • hinduism source of hindufilthyracism.

      hindu pagan, Catholics believe in their hindu soul, filthy desire like hindu's pagans of hindered gutter land india, they deny human spirit , truth of human foundation, ready to do any thing to please their hindu soul, filthy desire by any means like a hindu, hungry dog.

      August 13, 2012 at 3:14 pm |
  3. fsjunkie

    The butler did it.

    August 13, 2012 at 3:07 pm |
  4. Sunflower

    Gabriele is a HERO not a criminal.... He's got guts.

    August 13, 2012 at 2:49 pm |
  5. Blondie

    I wonder if he'll get the death penalty?

    August 13, 2012 at 2:41 pm |
    • Truth

      TOTALLY Agree, but CNN CANT. The Vatican, the so called "royal family" ultimatley
      control the media, and because of that, you have to read ALTERNATIVE news to get the real story

      August 13, 2012 at 3:49 pm |
  6. jes_sayin

    Does CNN even have an editor anymore?? The writing has gotten SO BAD.

    Why bother reporting this story if you're not even going to tell the reader what was leaked??!!

    August 13, 2012 at 2:38 pm |
    • hinduism source of hindufilthyracism.

      hind, filth from hind of hindu pagan pope, photo as such with poop showing on hind of pope was printed in newspaper in Italy in reference to hinduism, criminality of hindu, Mafia Catholic church, and they are being sued by hindu Mafia Church leadership.

      August 13, 2012 at 2:47 pm |
  7. Woody

    Look up who wrote the bible . The answer might or might not surprise you . Just like religion itself !

    August 13, 2012 at 2:36 pm |
    • ncooty

      The Flying Spaghetti Monster wrote it to test our faith in His Holy Noodliness.

      August 13, 2012 at 2:38 pm |
  8. ncooty

    Obviously, the best defense here is for the butler to claim that God told him to do it. Whatever proof the prosecutors might demand would merely show their lack of faith. "Lean not on your own understanding," prosecutors.
    It'll be the Infallible Pope vs. the Divinely Inspired Butler! Oh, to be a judge in the Land of Make Believe.
    Perhaps while waiting for trial, the butler could write some letters full of odd advice to the Corinthians.

    August 13, 2012 at 2:34 pm |
    • hinduism source of hindufilthyracism.

      Speaking truth is not hinduism, crime but noble, they should be rewarded not punished.

      August 13, 2012 at 2:41 pm |
    • nadinesh

      A very Protestant view, but that won't work with the Catholic Church. Church doctrine, for many hundreds of years, holds that you don't have a personal connection to God, but rather you connection with God is through the sacraments offered by priests to you. That doesn't mean they don't think ordinary people hear God's voice sometimes. Joan of Arc, for example. But this acting on your conscience thing is not a basic way the Church operates.

      August 13, 2012 at 5:31 pm |
  9. OhForGodsakes

    I was catholic til I was old enough to know better.

    August 13, 2012 at 2:31 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      And now you're nothing

      August 13, 2012 at 2:50 pm |
    • wow

      So much for turning the other cheek, eh Bill? Your savior must be so proud of you and your 4th grade insults.

      August 13, 2012 at 3:40 pm |
    • nadinesh

      Well, Bill,, you're someone who will admit to being a loyal Catholic. What do you think of all this?

      August 13, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
  10. ind, criminal orgization

    Speaking truth is hinduism, crime by hindu Catholic's, pagan compound rs of hindu Mithraism, pagan savior ism, Christianity by popularization and corruption of truth absolute commanded by God, A belief borne out of hind, filth of hinduism, racism, have no room to recognize their hinduism, criminality but prosciute truthful exposing hinduism criminality of hindu sanatan filthy goon Pope and his hindu Mafia organization called Catholic church. Magi's, tricksters selling hindu, filth hinduism, denial of truth absolute under cover of holy garb to hind, fool humanity.

    August 13, 2012 at 2:31 pm |
  11. Aezel

    The Vatican, corrupt? No way! Oh wait, yeah I guess raping thousands of little kids and then trying to hide it counts huh?

    Gee Mittens has such good taste picking one of these thugs to be the next VP of the United States.

    August 13, 2012 at 2:26 pm |
    • YBP

      watch bbc's The Mormon Candidate on youtube

      August 13, 2012 at 2:31 pm |
  12. ind, criminal orgization

    Speaking truth is hinduism, crime by hindu Catholic's, pagan compound rs of hindu Mithraism, pagan savior ism, Christianity by popularization and corruption of truth absolute commanded by God, A belief borne out of hind, filth of hinduism, racism, have no room to recognize their hinduism, criminality but prosciute truthful exposing hinduism criminality of hindu sanatan filthy goon Pope and his hindu Mafia organization called Catholic church.

    August 13, 2012 at 2:25 pm |
  13. A Single Poop from the Woods

    Hey guys, you won't believe where I came from.

    August 13, 2012 at 2:23 pm |
    • CathEngineer-2

      Your name says it.

      August 13, 2012 at 3:27 pm |
  14. whataboutthemetaphor

    Why is there no mention of what the papers actually said?

    August 13, 2012 at 2:17 pm |
    • nisroc00

      Good question but I'm betting the church is paying the media to shut up and the amount is so large it beats the money they would make from the story alone.

      August 13, 2012 at 2:25 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Possibly because there is nothing to inflame hatred of Catholics with.

      August 13, 2012 at 2:51 pm |
    • nadinesh

      Yeah, really. You'd think CNN would at least hint at that, wouldn't you?

      August 13, 2012 at 5:34 pm |
  15. dreamer96

    The Vatican dealing with miobsters..That was already covered in the "God Father" movies....

    August 13, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
    • YBP

      The cinema is not always the best source for information. Neither is any church. I recommend the library.

      August 13, 2012 at 2:28 pm |
  16. Alan

    I find it amazing that the Vatican so aggressively pursues a criminal who stole some papers but go out of their way to hide child predators!!!!

    August 13, 2012 at 2:13 pm |
    • YBP

      So true. The pope is running the biggest crime family in history like a well-oiled machine, but his butler (a euphenism, to be sure, giving new meaning to a gentlemen's gentlemen) gets arrested for attempted corruption. The people allow this to happen because they are so terribly uninformed. Education is the remedy.

      August 13, 2012 at 2:27 pm |
    • nadinesh

      Yeah, you gotta wonder, don't you?

      August 13, 2012 at 5:34 pm |
  17. Bob

    If the butler is convicted, then perhaps, while he is incarcerated, another inmate will interpret a dream of the butler just before the butler is pardoned and returned to service. For the sake of the butler's co-conspirators, I hope none of them is the Pope's baker.

    August 13, 2012 at 2:11 pm |
    • layla

      " The butler did it" How positively quaint. Would that Agatha Christie were alive today. What fun !

      August 13, 2012 at 2:17 pm |
    • h

      Nice, but the ancient Egyptian monarchy and the Holy see are a little different. I don't think Pharoah was as concerned about appearing rightous.

      August 13, 2012 at 2:26 pm |
    • Bob

      @h: So you say.

      August 13, 2012 at 4:10 pm |
  18. Anomic Office Drone

    I guess the Vatican doesn't offer protections for whistle blowers.

    America will follow if we continue to allow ourselves to be pushed towards fascism by the far-right.

    August 13, 2012 at 2:04 pm |
    • Cogitoergosum

      You got that right!

      August 13, 2012 at 2:17 pm |
  19. Wildone

    THE POPE HAS A BUTLER??? What the hell happened to the vow of poverty? I think "His Holiness" needs to disavow his life of wealth and privilege and get back to a life of service to God.

    August 13, 2012 at 1:56 pm |
    • Cogitoergosum

      Only some Catholic religious orders take a vow of poverty, among them the Franciscans. The others, obviously, think it quite right they should live high off the hog on lay members donations to the poor and impoverished. But we wouldn't have seen St. Francis or Martin Luther appear if the church aristocracy behaved as truly religious people.

      August 13, 2012 at 2:16 pm |
    • Sandman

      What does he need a butler for? I'll wear the white hat or the red hat?

      August 13, 2012 at 2:36 pm |
  20. upwardquest

    Paul Ryan is a Catholic

    August 13, 2012 at 1:54 pm |
    • YBP

      Oh, it get much worse...check out bbc's The Mormon Candidate on youtube.

      August 13, 2012 at 2:32 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.