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. heyheyhey

    What has the pope got to hide???? Why send him to jail? What would Jesus do???? No religious person should have anything to hide but I guess they do!

    August 13, 2012 at 10:17 am |
    • pherz

      Decorum and propriety forbid their matters from public view.

      August 13, 2012 at 10:23 am |
    • ObjectiveOpinion

      And their tax dollars?

      August 13, 2012 at 11:14 am |
  2. omdmp

    Uh oh butler, you upset the pedophile church! How dare you cross the little boy touchers.

    I hope the vatican burns to the ground, pope chokes on the smoke. Stupid catholics.

    August 13, 2012 at 10:11 am |
  3. PrimeNumber

    The Catholic church has been corrupted and renewed many times. Protestant denominations don't reform, they merely mutate into thousands of different forms. Secular societies seem to just evaporate, fade away, or rot and begin to stink.
    Many people are leaving the church and many are coming in. I know many ex "catholics". Most of them can tell you in two minutes everything they know about the church. It's my observation that there are many pew warmers leaving the church, but not many genuine catholics.

    August 13, 2012 at 10:11 am |
    • NY Veteran

      'Genuine Catholics'? Is that someone who sits idly by and supports pedophile priets and denounces the victims? Is a "Genuine Catholic" the type that excommunicates a Nun for speaking up for women's rights while a pedophile priest is someone to be pitied and prayed for? Is a genuine Catholic someone that believes that the earth revolves around the sun, burns people at the stake, and tortures in the name of god? When you or your ministers to the middle class do 40 years in some 3rld world mission, then you come back and tell me what a genuine catholic is. Until then thanks for the clarification. I am not genuine then and very grateful to the nuns that taught me to think for myself.

      August 13, 2012 at 10:22 am |
    • Mary

      Well said.
      Being a Catholic doesn't mean the Pope is the Almighty. We follow God. The Pope is a human being, along with all the other bishops, etc. Some are great, some are not.
      If you're not really committed to your religion, you'll probably skip out in search of some other church that will fit your idea of how things should be. Not the right mindset, by the way.

      August 13, 2012 at 10:23 am |
    • Bill Deacon

      Perhaps a better phrase would be intentional Catholic. One who intentionally embraces the sacraments and catechism of the Church. This is how my friends and I describe ourselves.

      August 13, 2012 at 10:27 am |
    • Simran.M

      And if you happen to be a butler with a conscience, you will be in a special vatican cell!!!

      August 13, 2012 at 10:28 am |
  4. steven harnack

    How can this even be a criminal offense? Seems to be just an internal church problem to me. A literal case of church IS state?

    August 13, 2012 at 10:10 am |
    • omdmp

      You got that right Steven. Church is state. They had the butler in their own vatican cell. Guess nobody can question 'god' or make his people look bad without punishment there.

      August 13, 2012 at 10:13 am |
    • Saiko

      Vatican is a state, so it's a criminal offense in that state. Which happen to be also church (somewhat simplified). Anyway, church officials (including priests) can be seen as foreign state agents in other countries, because their loyalties lie in that foreign state. Its law require that, this is why in some countries they explain they cannot help with inquiries about pedophilia for example – they are forbidden by the Canon Law, and they believe that Seal of the Confession is more binding to them than any national law.

      August 13, 2012 at 10:19 am |
    • Jonesyman

      Do remember that the Vatican IS a sovereign nation. So in this case there is no separation of church and state and the butler might be liable for revealing state secrets, something totally illegal even in secular states.

      August 13, 2012 at 10:46 am |
    • Ex-Religio

      Saiko and Jonesyman- The Vatican is not recognized as a State by the US. See my post on page 3.

      August 13, 2012 at 11:14 am |
  5. eroteme

    The butler did it.

    August 13, 2012 at 10:10 am |
    • CrossEyes

      BWAH HA HA HA!!!

      August 13, 2012 at 10:26 am |
  6. Obamahater

    If Obama and his wife have all their servents, why can't the Pope?

    August 13, 2012 at 10:09 am |
    • steven harnack

      If you can't SEE why, then it would do no good to try to explain it to you. You're simply not capable.

      August 13, 2012 at 10:14 am |
    • Bill Deacon

      Or maybe you're not capable of explaining it. The pope is the pastor for a billion people. It seems unreasonable for him to have to do his own laundry.

      August 13, 2012 at 10:29 am |
    • sasha

      Coz the Pope's butler can really embarrass him. Now you see why???

      August 13, 2012 at 10:37 am |
  7. Rock Reynolds

    One thing you won't see in the American press is a list of the secrets that were leaked. According to Pravda, the leaked secrets consisted of plots to kill the Pope. Pravda names the Cardinals Dario Castrillon Hoyos and Paolo Romeo as being involved in the plot.


    August 13, 2012 at 10:09 am |
    • Bill Deacon

      The so called secrets will not be revealed unless they are damaging to the Church's image.

      August 13, 2012 at 10:30 am |
    • Canada

      The 7th king is only to stay for a short while, before the 8th false king.

      August 13, 2012 at 2:07 pm |
  8. Jason D

    A religion that professes peace has under arrest within the vatican a butler...A BUTLER...for doing what...illuminating the darkness of the church....for a religion that professes that the truth will set you free they sure do protect theirs like taking money from the mafia, insider dealing, protecting peodo's, taking from the poor to give to themselves, hidding the work of god in the form of manuscripts that formed the bible, conning people with the turin shroud (18th century fake).

    Making churches around the globe give them money but avoiding any of the payments when their priests molest kids, have kids, get married... but considering the catholic church has commited more atrocities then all the others combined and still does its nothing people dont expect...hell haviong a nazi in control now isnt even the worst they've done

    August 13, 2012 at 10:06 am |
    • not again

      its kind of like The Vatican Papers!

      August 13, 2012 at 10:15 am |
    • lexlea

      The Church also owned American indigenous slaves, as well as participated in the African slave trade.

      August 13, 2012 at 10:23 am |
  9. bj lyon

    Guess the Pope didn't know he was leaving a paper trail with all his writings. "Bout time the Vatican was exposed for being
    so corrupt. Because they are an island unto themselves, they do nothing about the "naughty priests" that prey on young
    boys. A good house cleaning is in order!

    August 13, 2012 at 10:06 am |
  10. MrId

    The butler did it!

    August 13, 2012 at 10:00 am |
  11. freshnewblog

    That sets off a red glag for me. Is thst illegal. Once again it shows how evil The Catholic Church is.

    August 13, 2012 at 9:58 am |
    • Mary

      (most of) The parishioners of the Catholic Church are good, honest, loving, generous & caring people that have faith in God. The administration of the Catholic Church have had problems, and yes, dirty laundry that needs to be cleaned up, NOW.
      That said, you can blame those involved in the cover-ups, but NOT the faithful Catholic people living their lives the best way they know how.

      August 13, 2012 at 10:15 am |
    • Chad


      As long as those ‘faithful Catholic people living their lives the best way they know how’ still fill the collection plates on Sundays, we most certainly can place a share of the blame on them, as they are the ones funding this criminal empire.

      August 13, 2012 at 10:39 am |
    • sasha

      @ Mary,
      "Dirty laundary requires to be cleaned up" – Exactly something the Pope's butler was trying to do!!! Guess what happened?

      August 13, 2012 at 10:48 am |
  12. TruthGood

    The truth is necessary because it sets People free. The People of that Church will benefit from the truth too, unless off-course you are part of a deceptive kingdom that willfully misleads Mankind. The current Pope has a chance to steer the church on a more biblical path with its Christian freedoms, like allowing Priests to marry, and openly embracing the holy spirit like the Protestants. Ordinary Catholics like us need all the truth to come out anyway.

    August 13, 2012 at 9:58 am |
    • WASP

      @good: ok here is the truth you all need...........the catholic faith was a power play by constintine to rally the whole of the roman empire to his cause, seeing the plebs were converting to jewish based belief system to begin with. to aid the final conversion of the roman empire the "catholic" faith entertwined some of the old pagan beliefs to make it more comfortible to the new converts. just take a look at the first chapter of the bible, and the last chapter in norse mythology. ragnorak left only one male and one female, the bible picks up at one female and one male. odd right? lmfao

      August 13, 2012 at 10:10 am |
  13. ObjectiveOpinion

    Interesting how quickly the vatican gets these charges put forth, and for a priest, it takes decades, if ever.

    August 13, 2012 at 9:56 am |
  14. Terry

    Take justice upon those who give tha truth..really....the atrocities of the church is present which dealings has nothing to do with god..... More like the devil...and in the same book the evils has been hidden for centuries......there are angels and demons that walk among us...and in disbelief we give up or faith because the action of others..i think not...in tha coming days...those of the faith shall be persecuted for it..and for that who is without sin...what is forgiveness..the pope did what to his butler for uncovering the truth...this is sad..im not atheist...nor catholic...even called a christian is borderline nowadays...also i seen things beyond the unexplained.but to act as if im holier than thou is act within itself especially when darkness is present..if a person has hidden agendas behind the temple of god should it not be uncovered ..or better yet be keep secret...the blood cries out from tha ground even before this even happened ..

    August 13, 2012 at 9:52 am |
  15. Yankee Doodle Dandy

    pedophiles !

    August 13, 2012 at 9:51 am |
  16. Sally

    There was a one-week congress in Toronto called Canon Law with 130 speakers last week. Probably the church gang must give the impression that they would never do something wrong against law and Mr. Ratzinger would do his best to bring confidence back! There is always the eager shine-holiness acting, after some evidence is brought up, that the advantage of church membering is only archieved through greedy robbery and theft! They don't understand that most people don't want a theocracy and that religious segregating only causes racial conflicts and tribalism. People are not better, because of being a cathlic or whatever! But people who argue against the might of clerics, get in trouble! They have hidden power and are spreading holy water and magic words! Let's get rid off them. Besides, what was written in those papers, that Mr. Ratzinger thinks it must be kept secret? God sees everything!

    August 13, 2012 at 9:50 am |
  17. save the world and slap some sense into a christard today!

    This will be interesting. I don't see a PapaLeaks site yet.

    August 13, 2012 at 9:49 am |
  18. JakeAZ

    the fact that the pope has a butler cracks me up. did jesus have a butler?

    August 13, 2012 at 9:48 am |
    • Anthony

      i only clicked on this story to write the same comment you did

      August 13, 2012 at 9:54 am |
    • Saiko

      Jesus had around 12 butlers, not counting serving maids. At least that's the impression I got after reading the Bible.

      August 13, 2012 at 10:21 am |
  19. New Gawker

    The vatican needs to be burned to the ground. It's the most evil place in the world.

    August 13, 2012 at 9:47 am |
    • Nelco

      Have you visited the other places and come to the conclusion that the Varican is the worst? Come on! You have a very small

      August 13, 2012 at 9:56 am |
  20. LCSWquilter

    Is there anyone who still goes to the Catholic Church? All my friends have left, It's a shame, as we were an active, supportive, faith-inspired community that went down the tubes with the disrespect shown towards women and children, financial scandal, crcxkdowns of authority, etc. from a local to the highest levels. The hypcrisy got to be all too much.

    August 13, 2012 at 9:47 am |
    • JakeAZ

      my grandparents left the catholic church for all the reasons you stated back in the 70's. nobody in my immediate family considers themselves catholic anymore.

      August 13, 2012 at 9:50 am |
    • Bill Deacon

      If you and your friends and family were the "good ones" and left, then you have only yourselves to blame for abandoning the faith. It's sad that you lost your heart and dedication to the sacraments God gave us.

      August 13, 2012 at 10:36 am |
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