Butler seeks forgiveness from Pope for leaking documents to media
Pope Benedict XVI’s butler has written a letter to the pontiff expressing his “pain” and asking “forgiveness” for leaking private letters and documents to the Italian media.
Father-of-three Paolo Gabriele, 46, was arrested two months ago, after the Pope ordered an investigation into who was responsible for passing on his private correspondence, in a scandal dubbed “Vatileaks”.
Earlier this week, Gabriele was freed from custody and bailed to his home inside the Vatican, pending a decision by prosecutors on whether to take the case to a full trial later this year – one which would attract worldwide attention if it goes ahead.
The existence of the letter was disclosed by Gabriele’s lawyer, Carlo Fusco, who handed it to the Commission of Cardinals, set up by Pope Benedict to investigate the case which rocked the Vatican earlier this year after the embarrassing documents emerged in newspapers, on TV and in a book.
Mr Fusco said: “Paolo told me that the letter is his way of admitting his mistakes, the pain he feels and also asking the Pope for forgiveness. It is a confidential letter and it has been handed to the Commission of Cardinals set up by Pope Benedict.”
Vatican sources said the Pope was “seriously looking at the possibility” of forgiving Gabriele as it would avoid the Catholic Church being subject to media scrutiny during a trial which would involve airing a “lot of dirty laundry in public”.
The leaked documents showed how Vatican contracts were awarded to favoured companies and individuals and also highlighted allegations of internal power struggles with the Holy See’s bank, known as the Institute for Religious Works.
Initially, the theory among Vatican watchers was that Gabriele, who had been the Pope’s butler since 2006, could not have worked on his own and that he was set up and made a scapegoat for the real masterminds – senior figures in the church out to undermine the secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone.
However, Mr Fusco has denied this, saying that “there was no plot either inside or outside the Vatican. Paolo is the only person under investigation and as far as I know he is the only person involved, no others played a part.”
Others have also speculated that the leaking of the documents was also aimed at the Pope’s private secretary Monsignor Georg Ganswein, who has angered many of the Vatican old guard by giving Hello!-style interviews to glossy Italian weekly magazines.
One source said: “Monsignor Georg has brought to public attention a role that should be very private and that has resulted in many people getting jealous because they see him as having far too much influence over Pope Benedict.”
Among the documents leaked are letters between the Pope and Monsignor Ganswein, as well as others from figures within the Italian media and banking world who have written to him enclosing hefty cheques which are to be “used as a donation to a charity of the Pope’s choosing” before adding a request for a private audience.
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