Vatican leaks - did the Pope's butler do it?

Philip Pullella

Pope Benedict's butler has been arrested in connection with an investigation into leaks of confidential documents, some alleging cronyism and corruption in Vatican contracts, a senior Vatican source said.

The scandal, which has become known as "Vatileaks", involves the leaking of a string of documents to Italian media in January and February, including personal letters to the Pope.

Some of the documents involved allegations of corruption, mismanagement and cronyism in the awarding of contracts for work in the Vatican and internal disagreement on the management of the Vatican bank.

The president of the Vatican bank, Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, was ousted by its board on Thursday.


Vatican spokesmen said yesterday that a person in possession of confidential documents had been arrested but that they could not disclose his position or identity until they were given permission from Vatican investigators.

The Vatican source confirmed reports by Italian media that the person arrested was the butler.

"It's all very sad," another senior Vatican source said, commenting on an episode that is the latest in a string of embarrassments for the Vatican.

The Pope's butler serves in the apartments of the Apostolic Palace, serving at the Papal tables, handing rosaries to visiting dignitaries and riding in the first seat of the popemobile at Papal audiences.

As an intimate member of the Papal household, he is privy to the goings-on in the most reserved and private rooms in the Vatican.

Italian media said investigators had found documents in his apartment.

The Pope, who has been shocked and saddened by the leaks, ordered several investigations, including one headed by Vatican police and another by a commission of cardinals.

The leaked documents included letters by an archbishop who was transferred to Washington after he blew the whistle on what he saw as a web of corruption, a memo which put a number of cardinals in a bad light, and documents alleging internal conflicts about the Vatican Bank.