Friday 19 January 2018

Vatican chaos in race to find 'leaks mastermind'

Pope Benedict XVI blesses a family during Mass yesterday in St Peter's Basilica, the Vatican. Top left: The Pope’s butler, Paolo Gabriele, who was arrested last week.
Pope Benedict XVI blesses a family during Mass yesterday in St Peter's Basilica, the Vatican. Top left: The Pope’s butler, Paolo Gabriele, who was arrested last week.

Nick Pisa in Rome

THE Vatican is hunting a suspected mastermind of the Vatileaks scandal, which has led to the Pope's butler being charged over the leaking of highly sensitive documents.

Paolo Gabriele (46) was detained last week but few believe he was the brains behind the leaks.

Investigators are combing his computer and bank details to trace people he has been in touch with. His mobile phone is also being examined as many documents allegedly in his possession were photographed while on the Pope's desk.

His arrest comes two months after the Pope appointed a special commission to investigate the embarrassing leaks.

The documents show how contracts were awarded to favoured companies and individuals and also highlight allegations of internal power struggles.

One theory is that Mr Gabriele has been made a scapegoat for senior Catholic figures out to undermine Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone.

Another is that the leaking is aimed at the Pope's private secretary, Monsignor Georg Ganswein, who has angered many of the Vatican old guard by giving interviews to glossy Italian magazines.

On Saturday Mr Gabriele was charged with aggravated theft and last night was in a Vatican cell. Although the Pope made no direct reference to the arrest, he said in his sermon yesterday: "Communication between people is becoming more superficial and difficult. We see daily events in which it appears men have become more aggressive, confrontational, they seem to be concerned only with themselves, their own interests."

The investigation is continuing into a scandal which has embarrassed the Holy See by revealing evidence of internal power struggles, intrigue and corruption in the highest levels of the Catholic Church.

Mr Gabriele's detention rounded off one of the most convulsive weeks in recent Vatican history and threw the Holy See into chaos as it enters a critical phase in its efforts to show the world it's serious about complying with international norms on financial transparency.

Mole

The tumult began with the publication last weekend of a book of leaked Vatican documents including correspondence, notes and memos to the Pope and his private secretary.

It peaked with the inglorious ouster last Thursday of the president of the Vatican bank, Ettore Gotti Tedeschi. And it concluded with confirmation on Saturday that Pope Benedict XVI's own butler was the alleged mole feeding documents to Italian journalists in an apparent bid to discredit the pontiff's No 2.

"If you wrote this in fiction you wouldn't believe it," said Carl Anderson, a member of the board of the Vatican Bank which contributed to the whirlwind with its no-confidence vote in its president, Mr Gotti Tedeschi. "No editor would let you put it in a novel."

The bank, known as the Institute for Religious Works, issued a scathing denunciation of Mr Gotti Tedeschi in a memorandum. In it the bank explained its reasons: he routinely missed board meetings, failed to do his job, failed to defend the bank, polarised its personnel and displayed "progressively erratic personal behaviour".

Mr Gotti Tedeschi was also accused by the board of leaking documents himself -- the bank's memorandum said he "failed to provide any formal explanation for the dissemination of documents last known" to be in his possession.

Mr Anderson said the latter accusation was independent of the broader "Vatileaks" scandal. But he stressed: "It is not an insignificant issue." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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