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. Kristina

    Why does the pope even have a butler? Is that no against what the church is suposed to represent??!

    August 13, 2012 at 12:13 pm |
  2. Abduhlgoatfukr

    All organized religion is corrupt

    August 13, 2012 at 12:13 pm |
  3. Woody

    People will still put their heads into the sand as it seems most prefer the wonderful world of oz . Its a shame even many in news agencies would rather walk away from reality . It only hurts those of us that have to live with that reality . Thanks to the internet things are not as hidden as they use to be , but there are still those that would rather suppress our freedoms to know what goes on in the real world . Hiding from reality will not make peoples lives .

    August 13, 2012 at 12:13 pm |
  4. pdq

    Paolo will die a mysterious death very soon

    August 13, 2012 at 12:09 pm |
  5. Summer

    What would be done even if this so called corruption is made public? Would it REALLY make a difference?

    August 13, 2012 at 12:06 pm |
    • prophet

      sadly not as we have seen with many goverments but it will help many people decide what they want to do and many have turned away from such religions because people have said the truth and so helped them. We need information so that we can make informed decisions and that is what the change is we cahnge as individuals and thats what's importnat.

      August 13, 2012 at 12:12 pm |
  6. prophet

    Mr ratzinger and his clergy are dirty with sin and unholy, they are not worthy to be even called human beings for the abuse they have done and allowed to children. They are disgusting and they are abomination that causes desolation as this is what their perversions have done to innocent children and their families.

    August 13, 2012 at 12:05 pm |
  7. What?

    Why don't they lock up the priests who did these ungodly things to children, and hold the diocese responsible as well for turning their face, like the Sandusky mess!! The butler is in trouble? for letting the truth be known to the world? If he truly stole the papers, I understand he needs to be punished, but 5 years?

    August 13, 2012 at 12:03 pm |
  8. prophet

    Daisyy is not a well person if she thinks that Mr ratzinger is a dedicated man to God, sorry Daisyy but please pray to God and ask for His opinion because He will tell you as most of us on here trying to but your not listening.

    August 13, 2012 at 12:00 pm |
  9. Andrew

    I hope they catch ALL the gay preist! The gays ruined many lives in the church that helped so many. Today the poor are help so much by the charies of the church as they have for thousands of years.

    August 13, 2012 at 11:57 am |
    • beancounterz

      Pedofiles are not gay.

      August 13, 2012 at 12:00 pm |
    • Solitairedog

      You have a lack of understanding of the difference between a gay person and a pediphile. You remind me of the foolish bigot that attacked a Siekh temple because they were wearing turbans like Muslims. You are intensely bigoted and embarrassingly ignorant.

      August 13, 2012 at 12:05 pm |
    • Dunlar

      On top of that, if Jesus were living on this planet, do you think he'd live in something as lavish and garish as the Vatican?

      August 13, 2012 at 12:11 pm |
  10. interesting

    Son of Hamas Leader: Hamas Atrocities Led Me to Convert – YouTube


    August 13, 2012 at 11:56 am |
    • JOSH P.

      Google this.

      the Haganah, the Irgun Zvai Leumi and the Stern Gang.

      August 13, 2012 at 12:04 pm |
  11. alligator face

    the whole da.m church is corrupt, from the pope on down........the catholic church is in fact a criminal enterprise built on fraud and deception......religion is a poison and is the cause of more needless death than all the wars in history combined.

    August 13, 2012 at 11:56 am |
    • mike olesnevich


      August 13, 2012 at 12:10 pm |
    • Human

      'Look At Yourself In The Mirror'

      August 13, 2012 at 12:57 pm |
  12. Woody

    Each time I tried to point out the corruption that is the church Cnn would delete my post . Do you believe me now ? From a former Altar boy .

    August 13, 2012 at 11:55 am |
    • Chad


      August 13, 2012 at 12:10 pm |
  13. interesting


    August 13, 2012 at 11:53 am |
  14. jim

    I,me and myself would like to know how many bodies of young boys are buried around the Vatican?

    August 13, 2012 at 11:48 am |
  15. not surprised

    I wonder if the butler will shock everyone in the courtroom and give out some sweet secrets? Maybe the crooked pope will finally be exposed.

    August 13, 2012 at 11:48 am |
    • Daisyy

      yes, exposed for the holy dedicated man that he truly is...

      August 13, 2012 at 11:54 am |
    • Archived

      I'm sure all those golden cups and jewelry and priceless artworks in the vatican are all very useful in helping to feed and clothe the poor around the world.

      August 13, 2012 at 12:05 pm |
  16. ConfucianScholar

    God helps those who molest children...or so the Church believes, so they are pressing charges on the leaker of the Vatican financial corruption evidence and he can go straight to jail as far as Ratzinger and his band of bishops are concerned.

    August 13, 2012 at 11:48 am |
  17. prophet

    someone had said that The Bible is a catholic book, even St Peter wasn't a catholic, you really are very misled, we will be praying for you

    August 13, 2012 at 11:43 am |
  18. perryub

    How can there be "inter-Vatican memos"? Is there more than one Vatican? Or should it be intra-Vatican?

    August 13, 2012 at 11:41 am |
  19. Rosslaw

    The publication of a book is criminal but child molesting is seen as nothing more than a public relations issue to manage. A little problem with priorities here.

    August 13, 2012 at 11:40 am |
  20. Truth

    God helps those who help themselves I though.

    August 13, 2012 at 11:40 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.