Butler begs for Pope's pardon over leaked documents
The Pope's butler has written a letter to Benedict XVI asking to be pardoned for stealing and leaking confidential papers, in a move which may avoid a trial that would prove embarrassing to the Vatican.
Paolo Gabriele (46), who was formerly a trusted member of the Pontiff's inner circle, sent the letter to express his regret over the theft. The letter was sent to the Pope via a commission of three cardinals who are investigating the leaks.
The letter expresses Mr Gabriele's "sorrow and contrition" over the theft of the confidential documents from Pope Benedict's private apartments, said Carlo Fusco, the butler's lawyer.
In the letter, Mr Gabriele reportedly insists that no one else was involved in the theft, denying rumours in Rome that he was a scapegoat for a wider plot amid jockeying for power in the Holy See.
"Paolo is the only person under investigation," said Mr Fusco, echoing recent claims by the Vatican.
The Vatican has angrily denied reports that three senior figures have been drawn into the scandal. Reports in the German and Italian media this week alleged that the scandal had broadened to include a former personal secretary to the Pope, a German woman, and an Italian cardinal.
They were motivated by an urge to help Pope Benedict clean up alleged nepotism and corruption within the Vatican, and by jealousy of his current private secretary, Georg Ganswein, 'La Repubblica' said.
All have been questioned as part of the investigation into the so-called 'Vatileaks' scandal, but Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman, said that did not mean they were under suspicion.
Mr Gabriele faces a possible trial on charges of aggravated theft, and up to six years in prison. But Pope Benedict could intervene at any time to grant a pardon. (© Daily Telegraph, London)