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. sowhat

    uh oh...he committed the wrong sin. He should have molested a child instead and be forgiven on the spot.

    August 13, 2012 at 9:54 pm |
    • wordsdontmatter

      a spade is a spade;, 'know them by their fruits..'

      The Catholic Church since early 300s until 1648/1789 has always been what it still is but with less dominant political power world-wide now; POLITICAL RELIGION or Political Christianity and post 1492 Western Political Christian Imperialism..

      now, it is still Political Catholicism with pockets of its political religion everywhere while it may have since believers in christ or many simple culture christians by their personal history and family experience the power structure and hierarchy and purpose has never changed...

      our religious right repubs are simply the same political religion manipulating honest believers to get their vote for power throwing out a few moral statements and general faith acclamation.....

      post 1949 Washington has been working hard under a false banner of 'National Security Mandate period' to secure political-material dominion as far as it can: result = Secular Political Imperialism...

      Real Christians + Real enlightened Man is at war > political secular and political religious imperialism

      whether you know it or not this is the battle from BC to AD with 1789 being the MRE – macro revolutionary enlightenment I call it whereby all monotheism and revelation came into agreement with man without need revelation in the human spirit enlightenment agreeing "I am not god, you are not a god; therefore we cannot live as gods over others"

      break this..u stand against the spirit of God and the spirit of man...

      August 13, 2012 at 10:15 pm |
  2. NJ

    This shows a clear anti-catholic bias of CNN. The prosecutors statements have been grossly misquoted out of context. "I was certain that a shock ... would have been healthy to bring the church back onto the right track," is the prosecutor's rendering of the butler's motive. The way its put in this article it seems as if the judge is saying the theft would actually put the church back on its right track.

    This is atrocious journalism to say the least. All the other media outlets have correctly reported. But CNN is clearly demonstrating an anti-catholic bias

    August 13, 2012 at 9:46 pm |
    • Mr Robotron

      And rightfully so. You people are brainwashed sheep. Penn State coach bangs a few kids = prison, huge penalties, etc. Catholic church priests bang tens of thousands of kids = no one even cares. Don't question your masters, even if they bang your kids.

      August 13, 2012 at 9:50 pm |
    • wordsdontmatter

      do not you mean anti-Semitic?

      are you anti-American?

      or simply anti-analytic unable to argue or accept something on the basis of the facts revealed?

      August 13, 2012 at 10:22 pm |
    • billdeacons

      NJ, your point is well taken, I thought the same thing. Mr. Robo you have fallen victim to the emotional ressonse of so many to the abuses perpetrated within the Church. Your response is not based on facts but on your emotions. Some unbiased research into the scandal within the Church will show you that what happened is not outside the norm of society and that the Church has responded in a very progressive manner. That doesn't stop the haters though.

      August 14, 2012 at 12:19 am |
    • A Frayed Knot


      "Some unbiased research into the scandal within the Church will show you that what happened is not outside the norm of society"
      - Ah, but they (and you) claim that they are better than the norm... the Best, in fact. They are supposed to be guided by the "hand" of a freakin' perfect "God" for crying out loud.

      "and that the Church has responded in a very progressive manner."
      - Only when forced to do so, after having been exposed by outsiders and having been subjected to secular, civil law.

      You have been betrayed. I'm sorry.

      August 14, 2012 at 12:32 am |
    • billdeacons

      No Catholics believe they are better than anyone else. We are all come to the cross as sinners. You have been mislead by what you think you know. When the rest of the world's organizations catch up to the Catholic church in terms of child abuse transparancy and prevention I'll give your comment about being "forced" some credence. Until then you are just beating a dead horse.

      August 14, 2012 at 2:11 am |
  3. Essen Mein Sheize

    The essence of man is licking a midget's butthole.

    August 13, 2012 at 9:37 pm |
  4. JJK

    Why indict the Church for the failure of men.

    August 13, 2012 at 9:15 pm |
    • rickray1

      Because it's men who created the church. Don't tell me your imaginary, invisible sky-daddy did it! It was men who wrote your buybull and made a hell of a mess of it and then said it was the word of god. Christianity is the monster it created.

      August 13, 2012 at 9:52 pm |
    • sam stone

      JJK: The church is a creation of man. As is god

      August 14, 2012 at 5:56 am |
    • truth be told

      Wrong and wrong, the count is two and o. Waiting for the next pitch.

      August 14, 2012 at 5:59 am |
    • truth be told

      Your misspelling and unoriginal insults render your comment more than useless. If you represent the so called atheist point of view people of faith have nothing to be concerned about.

      August 14, 2012 at 6:03 am |
    • Not a Player

      truth be told,

      Who designated you to be the umpire?

      August 14, 2012 at 6:05 am |
    • sam stone

      truth be told: you saying it don't make it so. as someone else pointed out, you are not the umpire. you are just yet another fan stuffing his face in the stands and purporting to know the game

      August 14, 2012 at 8:19 am |
    • Bill Deacon

      And you sam are a commenter on a game you don't play.

      August 14, 2012 at 9:34 am |
    • sam stone

      bill deacon: what do you mean "a game i don't play"? i am in the world as much as you are, and have every bit as much authority to comment on the existence of god and the nature of churches as you do. do you think that you have additional insight?

      August 14, 2012 at 10:07 am |
    • Bill Deacon

      Yes, I think people who practice in any discipline whether it be science, religion, politics, what have you are better equipped to make intelligent observations on that discipline. Would you presume that I was competent to make remarks on an area I had no experience in? Likewise, I discount your observations on religion because, by your own admission, you are not a practiitioner.

      August 14, 2012 at 11:18 am |
  5. Frank Lynn

    Not a single detail about the letters tyhemselves..?? What was so damning about the content is outside the scope of the story. I want to find translations online and read the letters and memos and faxes...but CNN boldly does not go where no one else has gone .....again.

    August 13, 2012 at 8:31 pm |
    • hinduism source of hindufilthyracism.

      Magi, trickster Pop awoke up on wrong side of the bed.

      August 13, 2012 at 8:49 pm |
    • Don

      I hate all the stories that fly around when elections roll.

      August 13, 2012 at 9:27 pm |
    • billdeacons

      Perhaps the reason they were not released is becasue they were not damning. Can't sell that story on CNN

      August 14, 2012 at 12:20 am |
  6. umish

    What ever happened to turn the other cheek..... guess it does not apply to the pope.. At least now we will see displayed all over the press the corruptness and evilness of the Nazi pope and his church. THe church has been corrupt from the day it was set up on peters rock.. or some rock, it trinity is money power and influence. Let the dirty laundry hang. or if not the laundty the pedophila priests as a sacrifice to some god....

    August 13, 2012 at 8:26 pm |
    • hinduism source of hindufilthyracism.

      Peter never visited Rome, hinduism, absurdity of 4th century to hind, fool people.

      August 13, 2012 at 8:50 pm |
  7. daveyoung

    Maybe the butler can get a job at the White House. Leakers are useful and appreciated there.

    August 13, 2012 at 8:16 pm |
    • David

      Just ask Valeria Plame-Wilson.

      August 13, 2012 at 8:31 pm |
  8. Tired of Religion Perverting the World

    Good for Paulo. I find it hard to believe he wasn't paid, though. Very hard to believe.

    August 13, 2012 at 8:04 pm |
    • Athiest

      Wait! 1-6 years in prison? Aren't these guys christians? Shouldn't they just forgive him? Maybe if he molested some children they would forgive him.

      August 13, 2012 at 8:10 pm |
    • hinduism source of hindufilthyracism.

      Religion's are hinduism, corruption of truth absolute by hindu pagan Magi's, trickster Jew's, self centered of Egypt and Persian origin, blood brothers of hindu racist Nazi.

      August 13, 2012 at 8:46 pm |
  9. Beeples

    This man is a legend as far as I am concerned. He did the right thing. Those poor children who have been abused need someone like him to get the message out that this is WRONG. The Catholic Church is an organization developed by Pedophiles who use God to get what they want. If God does truly exist, then I can only assume one thing, he likes the little boys too. I wouldn't be a bit surprised if the Pope himself has abused someone in the past. Any parent who turned a blind eye to what was going on are no different to those parents who allowed their children to spend a night in Michael Jackson's bed. All very sad, especially those that defend the Catholic Church. Now, go on rip me to pieces, bring it on.

    August 13, 2012 at 7:57 pm |
    • David

      Yes, prayer changes things. It puts callouses on the knees...similar to the ones you get from taking in in the backside from god's intermediaries.

      August 13, 2012 at 8:24 pm |
    • hinduism source of hindufilthyracism.

      Boy abuse is a holy tradition of hindu, pagan Zoroaster ism, religion of hindu, pagan Magi's, fortune tellers, forerunner of Vatican. What do you expect? People of Lout.

      August 13, 2012 at 8:30 pm |
    • Beeples

      hinduism source of hindufilthyracism......what the hell are you talking about you moron. Learn to write properly and try to make sense. Are you making excuses for the Catholic Church, if so that can only mean one thing. You might be into the same thing as the priests.

      August 13, 2012 at 9:12 pm |
    • hinduism source of hindufilthyracism.

      It your lack education, knowledge making you hindu, ignorant, boy abuse is part of hindu filthy Zoroaster ism, as Zoroaster himself announced his god, Ahora Mazda did it him, while he was swimming in a lake, Every hindu sanatan, filthy goon abused boys as holy tradition including Plato, Pythagoras and Aristotle and King James of England , writer of King James Bible. Catholic church and their hindu filthy priest abuse boy's by holy tradition of their hindu foundation and profession as Magi, fortune tellers, foundation of Catholic church. It is your hinduism, absurdity, member of Lout clan, not my knowledge.

      August 13, 2012 at 10:14 pm |
  10. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things.

    August 13, 2012 at 7:06 pm |
    • Dat

      *Citation needed.

      August 13, 2012 at 8:10 pm |
    • Beeples

      Stupid people like you are not healthy for children.

      August 13, 2012 at 8:11 pm |
    • kindless

      Oh my, dear, prayer is just a time-sucker-upper. You just need some chamomile tea and some peaceful meditation without any make-believe characters and you'll be fine. If the thought of becoming an atheist makes you want to go p00py, just try Atheism Lite™ (agnosticism) for a while so you can easy into a more responsible, productive, and happy life.


      August 13, 2012 at 8:44 pm |
  11. John

    Oh you mean the people who touch kids have other evil agendas going on? I'm shocked!

    August 13, 2012 at 5:58 pm |
  12. nadinesh

    What CNN didn't cover: From today's Guardian: "Among the most serious leaks published this year is a letter from Carlo Maria Viganò, the former deputy governor of Vatican City, denouncing inflated contracts with friendly companies, false invoicing and missing cash."

    August 13, 2012 at 5:48 pm |
  13. chicago7

    This may be beside the point but I'd like to know what the pope is doing with a butler. What happened to the vow of poverty? Why isn't he being assisted for free by priests? I thought the popes were "descended" from St. Peter the common fisherman? Maybe I just don't understand how the Roman Catholic Church works.

    August 13, 2012 at 5:40 pm |
    • junior

      You don't. Fortunately you can check out Catholic.com if you sincerely want to know.

      August 13, 2012 at 8:18 pm |
    • David

      You mean to say that a worshiper of Jesus and interpreter of this words should actually FOLLOW his teachings?

      What are you smoking?

      August 13, 2012 at 8:29 pm |
  14. t3chsupport

    What would Jesus do?

    Oh wait, it's Catholics. They don't care about Jesus.

    August 13, 2012 at 5:32 pm |
    • nadinesh

      What a juvenile as* you are.

      August 13, 2012 at 5:49 pm |
    • David

      Someone is juvenile for simply pointing out the hypocrisy of the church?

      But you, on the other hand, are such an adult when you believe in sky fairies.

      August 13, 2012 at 8:26 pm |
  15. nadinesh

    They're caught with their pants down. So what do they do? Quickly change the subject and move ahead? Nope. They bring the guy - already a hero to most people - up before a tribunal and prosecute him! Now you're Oilcan Harry and he's a martyr! That's a stinky way to improve you rotten image, isn't it? Not only corrupt, but not clever. You'd think they'd want to have it go away ASAP. This corporation needs a new PR firm.

    August 13, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
  16. me

    How about they arrest the pope for aiding and abetting child mollesters

    August 13, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
    • David

      When an old guy with a van does it, it's "cut off his testicles" time. When perpetrated by the church, it's all part of god's loving but mysterious plan.

      August 13, 2012 at 8:28 pm |
    • wordsdontmatter

      Or Rick Santorum and now Romney's running VP??

      August 13, 2012 at 10:34 pm |
  17. nadinesh

    Outrageous. He wasn't paid. Hard to consider that theft, although technically, I suppose it is. This is what happens when a Catholic official acts with conscience.

    August 13, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
    • billdeacons

      The butler is hardly an official and yes, when someone takes your personal private property it is considered a crime

      August 14, 2012 at 12:23 am |
  18. Johnson

    I wish Wickileaks would infiltrate the Vatican. I am sure there is a lot of dirt we should know about.

    August 13, 2012 at 5:10 pm |
    • billdeacons

      why should you know?

      August 14, 2012 at 12:24 am |
  19. Lanfear

    At least the butler leaked relevant information. Not like that turkey and wannabe hero Assange.

    August 13, 2012 at 5:06 pm |
  20. DontSaytheTruth

    I did do the butler. But he was very vanilla.

    August 13, 2012 at 5:03 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.