Documents leaked to the Italian media, involving an alleged web of corruption, cronyism, and nepotism by the Vatican, have been traced to an intimate member of the papal household, the butler.
Euronews reports a senior Vatican source confirmed that "Pope Benedict’s butler was arrested on Friday in connection with an investigation into leaks of confidential documents, some alleging cronyism and corruption in Vatican contracts."
In the months of January and February 2012, confidential documents, including letters to the Pope, were released to the Italian media.
In what is being called "Vatileaks," the documents highlight power struggles within the Institute for Religious Works (the Vatican's bank) and how contracts were awarded to favored individuals and companies at inflated prices.
Correspondence from Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, the former deputy governor of Vatican City, to the Pope and Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone was broadcast on Italian television and shows "that Vigano was transferred after he exposed what he argued was a web of corruption, nepotism and cronyism linked to the awarding of contracts to Italian contractors at inflated prices." Vigano, who is now the Holy See’s ambassador in Washington, is said to have "begged" to keep his job and finish his efforts to clean-up purchasing procedures. Bertone transferred him anyway.
Cardinal Bertone, the Vatican Secretary of State
The Telegraph revealed that Paolo Gabriele, 40, is the butler arrested in connection with the leaks. Butler has been a member of the Pope's inner circle for six years. Among Gabriele's duties were riding in the first seat of the popemobile at papal audiences, serving at the papal tables, and handing rosaries to visiting dignitaries.
Gabriele served in the apartments of the Apostolic Palace and that appears to be where he was arrested when he arrived for work on Friday. According to The Telegraph, it is believed that Mr. Gabriele "was held as he arrived for work at the Papal apartments in the Apostolic Palace behind St Peter’s and on Friday he was being held in custody – the first time in years the Vatican jail had been used." Gabriele was held by gendarmes, members of the French national police.
Gabriele, a father of three, is considered a "lay person" and as such should not have sensitive, private documents in his possession. The Telegraph reports that sources indicated "sensitive Vatican documents had been recovered from...Gabriele’s home inside the Vatican, but some have questioned if Mr Gabriele was perhaps being made a scapegoat."
Photo by Fabio Pozzebom/Agência Brasil
File photo: Pope Benedict XVI during visit to São Paulo, Brazil.
"I know Gabriele. He is a nice guy but I don’t think he would be behind this. I think he may have been imprudent and taken the odd document home but he is not the main person," Paolo Rodari, an expert on Vatican affairs, was quoted as saying.
According to msnbc, the Pope is "said to be shocked and saddened by the leaks." No reported comments were found regarding the Pope's position on the content of the leaked documents themselves.