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. Highly Motivated

    The police in my city should learn something from this. Privacy is important to citizens and we don't want you in our houses for ANY reason.

    August 13, 2012 at 9:16 am |
  2. DefyTheGods

    So, the butler really did do it! LOL

    August 13, 2012 at 9:15 am |
  3. prophet

    many from the vatican read these posts as the saying goes know thy enemy so what you all say say it they know as they are now scared and insecure as of course they don't believe in The One True God.

    They are insecure as most large orgaisations as they are not based in Truth but on corruption and a tree withy no roots always falls over. They waterless rivers.

    August 13, 2012 at 9:15 am |
    • ironman59

      All religion and religious beliefs are a shame. It doesn't matter if you have a church or do it yourself. If you believe in this nonsense then you are weak – plain and simple.

      Religion is nothing but false hope and wasted time. The trillions of dollars wasted on religion in this world could solve the problems of the world in a few short years. Over time as it is beginning now religion on all levels will be exposed for the fraud that it truly is.

      August 13, 2012 at 9:23 am |
  4. booboot1947

    While Americans and other Western nations talk about their love of freedom and democracy, the Catholic church has not changed its way for two millennia. It is the most structured and totalitarian ever to exist and its followers have no say in how it's done, no matter how many protesters there are. To be a catholic, one must obey and be a blind sheep at the risk of being excluded.

    August 13, 2012 at 9:12 am |
    • miked

      ... no one is forcing you
      ... you have 30000 domination to choose 'not totalitarian' from
      ... your kids are acting in your house by neighborhood rules?
      ... in the company you work for, your are under your rules?

      August 13, 2012 at 10:00 am |
  5. kalaparthy

    The Holy Church has withstood several and millions of threats and perils in the course of history, and Christ has said clearly, "have no fear, I have conquered the world", and else where in the Bible we remember Him saying, "Peter, you are rock, and on this I build my Church, and so no forces of evil shall ever prevail over you.." and we also remember Him saying, "Heaven and Earth may pass away, but my words shall not". Church is the mystical body of Christ, it has withstood over 2000 years and it shall continue to do so, with more vigour.

    One can understand well why the entire international media of the world stands in stark contrast or opposion to the Church. It's views on Marriage, Abortion, War, Truth are totally different from what the media want portray and give the evil its planners and promoters design.

    Know the TRUTH – Christ, and have true freedom, and that freedom only He can give you and me. May peace be in our hearts.

    August 13, 2012 at 9:11 am |
    • miketofdal

      Benedict? What the hell are you doing posting on CNN?

      August 13, 2012 at 9:16 am |
    • Josh

      That was a totally contentless statement although I'm sure you believe it is deep.

      August 13, 2012 at 9:17 am |
    • booboot1947

      You sound like a good communist.

      August 13, 2012 at 9:17 am |
    • Bill Deacon

      All true

      August 13, 2012 at 9:18 am |
    • prophet

      you are misled to by the christians as well as Our Saviour is Yeshua Mashiah

      August 13, 2012 at 9:18 am |
    • ironman59

      Know the TRUTH that none of the garbage ever happened. Religion has been a tool to enslave the masses for the sake of power – nothing more. The christian bibles can't agree on the same text and scholars all agree that it was written over a 400 year period. Add to it that anything that didn't fit the "doctrine" of the early church was left out.

      The Romans found out that by working with the various popes of the time they could far better control the masses with religion than with weapons. That has continued for centuries. Religion is nothing but a bunch of made up stories and all religions have the same general parameters. A being in the sky, some off spring that was persecuted and killed. A bunch of rules that contradict each other on how to live. If you are going to claim the bible, claim it all. Don't cut your hair, shave your face, widows must marry a brother, stone adulters, sacrifice animals, etc.

      The problem is you can't because it was nothing but nonsense made to fit the times it was written. Problem is there hasn't been any updates in 1700 years and is so outdated that the scam of it shows clearly.

      I for one am quite capable of living my life without some fairytales telling me what to do every minute of the day.

      August 13, 2012 at 9:20 am |
    • Bill Gate

      idiot. There is no god. The church is for the clever to fleece the stupid.

      August 13, 2012 at 9:23 am |
  6. The predictable track record

    "Gabriele was held in a special Vatican cell... " So the Inquisition is alive and well...

    August 13, 2012 at 9:11 am |
    • Bill Deacon

      You must not understand that the Vatican is a nation with it's own police force.

      August 13, 2012 at 9:18 am |
    • humanbean

      Bill Deacon, you must not comprehend that what you stated doesn't discount the fact that the Inquisition could still be alive and well. Actually, you're unknowingly making the guy's point for him because it would certainly be a lot easier for them to get away with it considering that they DO have their own police force.

      August 13, 2012 at 9:37 am |
  7. booboot1947

    Why isn't my earlier comment not shown? Are we dealing with the CNN censorship here?

    August 13, 2012 at 9:08 am |
  8. booboot1947


    August 13, 2012 at 9:07 am |
  9. brich22

    The biggest sham ever perpetrated in mankind's history.

    August 13, 2012 at 8:59 am |
    • Bill Deacon


      August 13, 2012 at 9:19 am |
  10. omz

    No religous organization that thrives on the wealth of its followers should be secretive with its information especially from the ones who fund it.

    August 13, 2012 at 8:58 am |
    • Bill Deacon

      You mean like the U.S. government?

      August 13, 2012 at 9:19 am |
  11. Bill

    Sounds like the butler pulled the curtain open like the Wizzard of Oz.

    August 13, 2012 at 8:57 am |
  12. Er

    Why do people still believe in a magic man in the sky? I figured out around age 8 that he didn't exist, much like Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and the Boogy Man. Grow up people.

    August 13, 2012 at 8:55 am |
    • prophet

      your a very unfortunate person and we are praying for you

      August 13, 2012 at 9:11 am |
    • There, there...

      Hopefully you'll understand by the time you're 9.

      August 13, 2012 at 9:14 am |
    • kalaparthy

      Dear Er, I wish you God's blessings, enjoy God's creation around you, and your own very person. God, our unconditionally loving Father, loves you all the same.

      August 13, 2012 at 9:15 am |
    • Timmy

      Hopefully your 3 responses gave you a glimps into the delusional state of believers in the supernatural.

      August 13, 2012 at 9:49 am |
    • Ron

      God Bless You my son!

      August 13, 2012 at 9:55 am |
  13. Ya'akov the Traditional Jew.

    The US has had an ambassador and embassy to the Holy See (the Vatican) since 1984, when Ronald Reagan overturned the Congressional law of 1867 that banned relations with the Vatican. Look that up.

    August 13, 2012 at 8:54 am |
    • Bill Deacon

      Ronald Reagan still the best

      August 13, 2012 at 9:20 am |
    • Ex-Religio

      Like many, you confuse the Vatican with the Holy See. They are not the same thing. Look up 'Holy See' in Wikipedia. The distinction between the two is very clear. The Holy See is a legal incorporation of the RC Church. It exists solely on paper. We do not recognize the Vatican City as a State, that is, as asserted in the Lateran Treaty. The butler was illegally imprisoned by the rent-a-cop Vatican police. The Holy See does not have authority over crimes (such as stealing Ratzinger's personal effects) on Italian territory. That is up to Italian law. The Holy See can pass judgment on the butler's true 'Catholicism,' but it has no jurisdiction over him as a physical human being. It does not have sovereign rights over him, only Italy does.

      August 13, 2012 at 10:37 am |
    • Ex-Religio

      Oh, and this matter of jurisprudence only dances around the normative question- Should a church have temporal judicial power? The US Government has determined that it should not, hence the non-recognition of the Vatican as a State. Therefore, we should be pressing for the extradition of accused criminals like Bernard Law to stand trial for his crimes in the US.

      August 13, 2012 at 10:52 am |
  14. emekaobioji

    @ prophet, The name "Jesus" is only an englicised version of the hebrew (ישוע) pronounced "Yeshua".

    August 13, 2012 at 8:49 am |
    • prophet

      this is not so as Yeshua In Hebrew cannot be translated and let me say that Yeshua in Hebrew means Salvation and soter is greek for salvation so the christians didn't even have the decency to translate correctly and so there is no anglicised version on of isous and that is a completely invented by man and so a deception by the christians.

      August 13, 2012 at 9:07 am |
  15. gigi


    August 13, 2012 at 8:48 am |
    • not again

      thanks for the movie! Who does the Catholic Church want to burn at the stake today? Gay people, women, nuns?

      August 13, 2012 at 10:19 am |
  16. Mandy

    So, "The butler did it"! 🙂

    August 13, 2012 at 8:48 am |

      With the pipe in the directory!

      August 13, 2012 at 9:09 am |
  17. prophet

    i don;t belong to a religion, so many of you need to learn to read, more than likely your an athiest, turn to God not to religion and you will know what i am talking about.

    August 13, 2012 at 8:42 am |
    • ironman59

      I am quite happy and content in my life not wasting it following a book of fairytales. I don't waste my time with meaningless prayers, rather I take action to fix things in my life. I don't waste my money building outrageous buildings rather I use it to solve problems in my community.

      In other words, I stand on my own 2 feet and live my life without being blinded by a bunch of fairytales. I am quite capable of thinking for myself, figuring out right from wrong and figuring out who to vote for. In short, I am quite capable of making my own decidions and don't need the nonsnse of some fairytale in the sky telling me how to live.

      Try it some time, amazing what gets accomplished when you spend time on productive activities.

      August 13, 2012 at 9:09 am |
    • Speakee Engleesh?

      You don't belong to a grammar club either.

      August 13, 2012 at 9:16 am |
  18. Redoz

    I am hoping this book comes out in English as I now want to read it and see what else is going on over there!!!

    August 13, 2012 at 8:41 am |
  19. emekaobioji

    I am catholic, I have been catholic for 33 years. I have studied church history (history of christianity if you like) from the time of Jesus to date. The church will always have black sheeps. It began with Judas who sold Jesus for a paltry sum. And as Jesus have taught us before you criticize or judge harshly or cast the stone, make sure you have no sin. There are many holy people in the church (Mother Teresa, St Josemaria, Pope Benedict, John Paul II), there are many sinners too including myself. Private letters are private letters it is a bad thing to steal it, and to make it public. It is the same offence that Julian Assange is accused of. It is naive and stupid to think that there are no sinners in the church. If there were no sinners then the church would have completed its mission.

    August 13, 2012 at 8:35 am |
    • prophet

      if you had studied the history of Our Saviour correctly then you would of realised that His name was not isous jesus etc and this is all invented by the chriistians out of antisemitism and they tried to de-judise Our Salvation, so you need to research carefully because you are being misled by the christians.

      Our Saviour Is Yeshua Mashiah and THat is a Fact

      August 13, 2012 at 8:39 am |
    • VoiceOf Truth

      Good post

      August 13, 2012 at 8:40 am |
    • Timmy

      Lol...it's so bazarr to read some of you cult member's posts. It's actually very frightening. You have no idea how circular your "reasoning" is. You can pull any quote to justify and reconcile any atrocity. I think I have more disgust for you, and others like you, than I do pity.

      August 13, 2012 at 8:45 am |
    • Bill Deacon

      Timmy, would you be so kind as to point out the circular reasoning in ema's post?

      August 13, 2012 at 8:54 am |
    • ironman59

      Plan and simple the church needs to be exposed. It is corrupt and in it's workings one of the most evil organizations in the world. This is from someone who was in the church far longer than you.

      August 13, 2012 at 9:02 am |
    • Kat

      Good post 😉

      August 13, 2012 at 9:02 am |
    • prophet

      i think that timmy is the one in a cult because all those that don't believe in God are pagans and paganism is a cult is it not. Encyclopedia Brittanica.

      August 13, 2012 at 9:02 am |
    • Deacon Mario

      This is NOT about black sheep! It is about a corrupt system with secrecy and little accountability. So many Roman Catholics live as if all of this is made-up by the media and disconnected from the reality they continue to sustain with their financial and emotional support.

      August 13, 2012 at 9:25 am |
    • luckyDog

      @prophet – I think you are a little confused in your definitions and in your logic. Atheism is the term used to describe people that do not believe in magical men in the sky. Also, paganism is not 'cult' per se. It is a general term which refers to a broad set of indigenous and polytheistic religions. Some pagan religions are cults, but not because the don't believe in a god, but because they believe in the 'wrong' gods.

      Athiests are not pagans, and they are not in a cult. Like you, atheists reject all pagan deities. Unlike you, they also reject one more deity...

      August 13, 2012 at 9:27 am |
    • Simran.M

      Black sheep in the Vatican??? What about the rest of the herd? Surprising, in a history of 2000 yrs, you could come up only with 4 names of good sheep.


      More recently, how about pope saying the society is to blame for child se.xual abuse (well, of course priests belong to society!) Interesting.


      August 13, 2012 at 9:50 am |
    • Simran.M

      Of course, everything that happens in the Vatican has to be seen in the broader social context.

      So, if society practices child se.x abuse, you cant balme the parish for doing the same.
      If society engages in power struggle, why not the priests?
      If there is corruption and treachery outside, why not inside?

      Oh wait, did somebody just say, this was the Church??? Morality is found outside more commonly these days my friends.

      August 13, 2012 at 9:55 am |
    • not again

      you've been wasting your time studying hocus pocus

      August 13, 2012 at 10:20 am |
  20. prophet

    don't even jok about converting to muslims because the religion is evil and that is FACT as the son of a leading muslim leader and its organisation recently converted to christianity because he found that the religion was based on destroying people iit is written some 26 times in their doctrines so what we see with them is sadly true, even syria how many non-muslim countries would do what this satan is doing

    August 13, 2012 at 8:32 am |
    • William Demuth

      Dude, you're an indoctrinated simpleton.

      ALL religions are the same, a pack of lies and a cult of fools.

      Are your really siily enoght to believe your beloved Jeebus is somehow different?

      You just want to be on the willing side.

      I hope you guys slaughter each other.

      August 13, 2012 at 8:39 am |
    • sam stone

      you sure have an issue confusing facts with opinions, prophet

      August 13, 2012 at 9:27 am |
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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.