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. Seyedibar

    I doubt there's more than ten people on earth who would be shocked at learning the Vatican is crooked and evil. We still haven't forgotten WW2.

    August 13, 2012 at 11:38 am |
    • John

      Nice try, hater. There would be no Western Civilization nor any authentic Christianity on Earth were it not for the Church. The Catholic Chirch is the Church referred to in Matthew 16:18, period. History continues to demonstrate that fact, which is rightfully uncomfortable for many, especially those who claim to love Christ but refuse to be part of the Church he founded.

      August 13, 2012 at 12:05 pm |
  2. prophet

    so the Swiss Guard, protecting this evil, are they as much to blame, misled they must be, but of course the vatican says if you will protect us will put all our money into your banks, sounds fair doesn't it.

    August 13, 2012 at 11:34 am |
    • August West

      have you seriously been at this since 7:54am? 4 hours of typing comments on CNN.com? Awesome!

      August 13, 2012 at 11:54 am |
  3. August West

    Thank you, CNN, for giving all of the crazies an excuse to vent about Vatican and the Pope...everyone needs an outlet to spew their hatred, right? It's pretty simple...this man committed a crime and is being punished. If it were the butler of the Pope, President or any other person, it would still be a crime. Claiming that he was a wikileaks-esque reformer sounds a lot like a hindsight defense that plays upon public opinion. I wonder if this champion of truth was paid for his services? Why don't we all admit that none of us know the detailed facts of the case, and therefore should maybe just stay out of it. If you want to complain about Catholics, there are plenty of modern "Christian" churches that will be happy to accommodate you. Of course, that would mean coming out from behind your computer screen, which is probably unlikely...

    August 13, 2012 at 11:34 am |
    • prophet

      surely you cannot be real with a name like that, you must be a hypocrite as you don't put your real name on either

      August 13, 2012 at 11:36 am |
    • August West

      Actually, "prophet," it is my real name. Not that it should matter to you, but my family name is West, and my parents were a fan of the song Wharf Rat...look it up.

      August 13, 2012 at 11:41 am |
  4. prophet

    We should all pray for the brave thing that this man did to try help people by showing how much wronmg the vatican has done and is still doing in the Name of God

    August 13, 2012 at 11:32 am |


      August 13, 2012 at 11:41 am |
  5. prophet

    they have hurt and harmed a lot of decent people and they have been allowed to perpetrate this, this is the sin and the evil that thye are and their followers are all in it as well, as thye support these people. If most of their followers had any moral standing then thye would realise that they belong to an illness and take a moral stand against it. A Kingdom cannot be without its subjects otherwise it could not be a kingdom.

    August 13, 2012 at 11:28 am |
  6. Ghost Of Michael Whitney Houston-Jackson

    DO NOT mess with the Pope. I did, and look what happened to me.

    August 13, 2012 at 11:24 am |


      August 13, 2012 at 11:41 am |
  7. prophet

    whats so sad is the lieing that thye do about God, this is the real problem Catholic isn't even mentioned in The Bible at all and it is said that no one must add or take away from The Bible and yet they have added in the word catholic. They are going against the very doctrines that thye preach and teach.

    August 13, 2012 at 11:23 am |
    • John

      The Catholic Faith is ALL about God. And the Bible is a Catholic Book. You are deceived by the enemies of the Catholic Church who are the enemies of God. Wake up.

      August 13, 2012 at 11:36 am |
    • R_R

      The word "Catholic" means universal, all they are saying is they are the universal church, not adding words to the Bible. By the way, if you go to church on Sundays you are following the teachings of a Catholic pope, who changed the "sabbath" to Sundays. It doesn't say anywhere in the Bible that it should be changed from starting Friday at sundown. Look it up 😉

      August 13, 2012 at 11:58 am |
  8. Nikki

    So much for 'The truth shall set you free', huh??

    August 13, 2012 at 11:20 am |
  9. prophet

    but the catholics were never on the right track, they began to decieve fro their own ends, all the evidence is on the internet read it and you will understand

    August 13, 2012 at 11:19 am |
  10. shelly

    Looks like the Pope is going to have to find himself a new boy-toy.

    August 13, 2012 at 11:17 am |
  11. prophet

    Mr ratzinger behaves as if he was an athiest, what ever next, ah well, maybe one day he will beiive in God as well

    August 13, 2012 at 11:16 am |
    • Mike Bartram

      No. He behaved like a religionist. Atheists know that there is no god that is 'on their side'.

      August 13, 2012 at 11:28 am |
  12. nostrildamus

    "I was certain that a shock ... would have been healthy to bring the church back onto the right track"

    He should have read up on Martin Luther's little disagreement with the Pope ~500 years ago. That didn't exactly work out the way he thought it would. The RCC has a long tradition of treating whistle blowers as enemies.

    August 13, 2012 at 11:11 am |
    • YBP

      Luther's 1543 tract outlined a seven-point plan that was followed to te lettered in Germany.

      August 13, 2012 at 11:13 am |
  13. prophet

    from what i see even the Italian government has had enough of the vatican and let us remind ourselves that it was musolini who allowed the vatican to be waht it is today and he was a facist so we can see what the vatican believes in, itself another Tower of Babel and they are beginning to spaek different languages within the vatican.

    August 13, 2012 at 11:11 am |
  14. Hypatia

    Sounds like he's using the same logic they use: "i'm gonna hurt you to help you." yeah, right. Let's get to the real stuff--how much $?

    August 13, 2012 at 11:10 am |
  15. YBP

    Isn't the pope hmself the more dangerous criminal? What about charges against him?

    August 13, 2012 at 11:10 am |
  16. gigi


    August 13, 2012 at 11:06 am |
    • gigi


      August 13, 2012 at 11:07 am |
  17. prophet

    change usually comes from within the organisation and rarely outside of it, and the gentleman is innocent of doing any wrong as all he wa trying to do was tell the authroities that the Vatican is staeling,this is waht authorities ask of people that if thye see any wrong to tell them, and this person has done just this. He ha done what the Law requires oi him both Biblical Law and and secular law so he's innocent of any wrong doing.

    August 13, 2012 at 11:06 am |
  18. Everett Wallace

    benedict is cain from the Holy Bible (new international version) and eve is queen elizabeth, bet those papers did not tell that, neither one of them died even the first Adam, created from the dust of the Earth died at 930 yrs old.

    August 13, 2012 at 11:03 am |
  19. prophet

    There is a saying about clergy, they drink alcohol but preach that they drink water

    August 13, 2012 at 11:02 am |
  20. rosie

    What does the Pope need a buttler for. Oh I see......

    August 13, 2012 at 11:00 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.