Sunday 18 February 2018

The Pope's butler held by police in 'Vatileaks' investigation

Nick Pisa in Rome

Vatican police have arrested the Pope's personal butler after an inquiry into the leaking of sensitive church documents.

The butler, identified as Paolo Gabriele (40), was held by gendarmes after a commission of three senior cardinals had been appointed by the Pope Benedict XVI to identify the source of the leaks, which have caused severe embarrassment.

Mr Gabriele, who has been at the Pope's side for six years, is one of the closest members of the German-born Pontiff's inner circle, which comprises just four lay people and four nuns. He is always at his side.

It is believed that Mr Gabriele, a father of three who is known by the nickname Paoletto (little Paul), was held as he arrived for work at the papal apartments in the Apostolic Palace behind St Peter's.

Last night, he was in custody -- the first time in years the Vatican jail had been used. Fr Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman, said a man had been detained with "documents in his possession".

Sources claimed that sensitive Vatican documents had been recovered from Mr Gabriele's home inside the Vatican.

Dozens of documents, including private letters to the Pope, have found their way to the Italian media in what has been dubbed Vatileaks, a play on the Wiki-Leaks website. The documents show how contracts were awarded to favoured companies and individuals and also highlight allegations of internal power struggles with the Vatican's bank known as the Institute for Religious Works.

The head of the bank, Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, who is already under investigation for money laundering, resigned on Thursday after a vote of no confidence and initially there were rumours that he was responsible for the leaks.

The scandal began in January with the publication of leaked letters from the former deputy governor of Vatican City, Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, in which he pleaded not to be transferred after he exposed what he said was corruption over the awarding of contracts.

Scapegoat

Archbishop Vigano was deputy governor from 2009 until last year, when he was moved to Washington to be papal nuncio in the United States. He had written to the Pope in protest, adding that it would bring an end to his efforts to "clean up" the Vatican.

Earlier this year, a report was leaked that claimed that a plot to assassinate the Pope had been uncovered. The report was dismissed as "absurd" by Fr Lombard.

Paolo Rodari, an expert on Vatican affairs, said: "He has been made a scapegoat just to satisfy the media. The documents found at his house were from the Pope's personal correspondence but a lot of the leaked documents have come from the secretary of state's office and he would not have had access to those." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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