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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. omdmp

    The vatican should burn to the ground, along with the pope and his followers. what a stupid 'religion', full of pedophiles and hypocrites.

    August 13, 2012 at 10:52 am |
  2. BobFromPA

    Regulate and tax them because they and all religions are really nothing special, just the SOS of men seeking power and wealth.

    August 13, 2012 at 10:51 am |
  3. Tim

    The Catholic Church is MAFIA

    August 13, 2012 at 10:50 am |
  4. columbus

    The Vatican doesn't necessarily represent the center of Christian spirituality, it represents the seat of power in the church. Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

    August 13, 2012 at 10:49 am |
  5. DocHollywood

    Oh my. A crime that was actually committed by the Butler? About time.

    August 13, 2012 at 10:48 am |
    • shoos

      Where's the like button? That was funny!

      August 13, 2012 at 10:59 am |
  6. Seethrough

    I helped him too Mr. Pope. I live in America. Arrest me.

    August 13, 2012 at 10:44 am |
  7. Seethrough

    I bet the Pope is wishing for the good old days when he torure em and burn em alive like all those pesky kids giving his church a hard time.

    August 13, 2012 at 10:42 am |
  8. Rundvelt

    Funny how they're very quick to prosecute someone who harms them, but when it comes to someone harming children, they have no problem avoiding the law.

    August 13, 2012 at 10:32 am |
    • DDW 1946

      The Pope should be arrested not the butler. The entire Catholic Church is corrupt.

      August 13, 2012 at 10:42 am |
  9. Roscoe Chait

    So the Pope is admitting that everything is true, but is upset because somebody dared to expose the church's corruption.

    August 13, 2012 at 10:30 am |
    • Bill Deacon

      The pope has not made any comment on any of the allegations in the book. By the way, can you enumerate those allegations for us or is it salacious enough for you that there simply are some?

      August 13, 2012 at 10:37 am |
    • okay

      He is upset that someone who was close to him would steal from him. Stealing is a criminal act.

      August 13, 2012 at 10:39 am |
  10. TG

    Who is the criminal here, Gabriele or the Catholic church ? To expose the Catholic church as corrupt is nothing new, individuals such John Wycliffe (1330 ?-1384), who produced the first English Bible (in 1382, not keeping it in Latin as the official language of the church), was condemned by Pope Gregory XI, issuing five edicts against him. Over 40 years after Wycliffe's death, by order of a papal council, his body was exhumed, his bones burned and threw into the river Swift.

    Later, William Tyndale (c.1492-1536), because he translated the Bible from Greek into English ("in order to combat corruption in the English church and extend Scriptural knowledge to the common people", Microsoft Reference Library 2005), was subject to being hunted down and was finally caught. He was then strangled and burned at the stake on October 6, 1536.

    In 1559, Pope Paul IV forbids possession of Bibles in the common languages. Vernacular translations were confiscated and burned, and often their owners were burned with them. When the Catholic church is examined carefully from its inception down through the centuries till now, it can be likened to a beast that has sought to control everyone through fear and intimidation, as during the Crusades and Inquisitions, slaughtering those who disagreed with its "policies" and beliefs, such as the unscriptural doctrine of the trinity. Michael Servetus (1511-53), because he exposed the trinity as wrong, was burned at the stake on October 27, 1553.

    August 13, 2012 at 10:30 am |
  11. CrossEyes

    Come out of Babylon, people. Else you get what you deserve.

    August 13, 2012 at 10:28 am |
  12. sam

    I agree religions cause deaths, get rid of them and then world would be a better place. There should be one belief, the right to be treated as human, and the right to food water and medicine. We should work on those things, and that can be achieved by LOVE of mankind

    August 13, 2012 at 10:26 am |
    • Bill Deacon

      Where does love come from sam? Government?

      August 13, 2012 at 10:38 am |
    • Mark

      Christianity is about Love. That is the main focus but there are bad apples in the bunch which give Christians a bad name. If you read Jesus's teachings all he talks about is love for one another. Nothing about a pope or anything. The church is currupt but if you actually read the bible yourself you will understand what Christianity is really about.

      August 13, 2012 at 10:48 am |
    • Mofo

      Bill & Mark,
      I don't need a religion to teach me what love is. Love isn't something that can be taught.

      August 13, 2012 at 10:55 am |
    • neil

      Very wise words sam. I nver heard them put that way

      August 13, 2012 at 11:02 am |
    • Wingrider

      I understand your distrust of the 'Church', but Christianity is not the culprit. Your belief in God is your faith, your Religion is your politics. I am the father of three, and don't mind if they call be Dad, Pop, or Father, and I don't belive the Father of all humanity cares if you call him God, Allah, Jehovah, Yaweh, or any other name, just call Him.

      August 13, 2012 at 11:02 am |
  13. BobZemko

    Whatever happened to "judge not, lest yee be judged"?

    August 13, 2012 at 10:25 am |
  14. bill

    Did you know the Catholic church grants immunity to those that lie to get an annulment? They grant the annulment so the abortionist woman can get remarried in the church. When new evidence comes to light they just sweep it under the rug just like abusing the children. Lafayette, Indiana.

    August 13, 2012 at 10:25 am |
    • Gesus

      The problem with religions is that they are run by people.

      August 13, 2012 at 10:28 am |
  15. skippydog

    Finally! A catholic arrested for something other than touching children! About time!

    August 13, 2012 at 10:22 am |
  16. m

    Hey fadda don't touch me der.

    August 13, 2012 at 10:21 am |
  17. klance74

    How very dare the butler reveal such information that would shock and corrupt the church. Let us all make sure to admonish this man to the extent of our revulsion for the information he leaked. He certainly should pay a hefty price for throwing light on the nefarious actions of the Catholic church, and we should transfer the disgust we should have for the church directly onto him.

    August 13, 2012 at 10:19 am |
  18. fearnogods

    They are trying to scare him inti keeping his mouth shut about much more than this.....The Vatican and the Pope are nothing more than organized crime hiding behind a false religion...

    August 13, 2012 at 10:19 am |
  19. LouAZ

    Oh, how we have missed the "Rack". Let the INQUISITION RESUME !

    August 13, 2012 at 10:19 am |
  20. moondawn

    Funny, isn't it, how 'secrets' just people more curious.

    August 13, 2012 at 10:18 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.