Pope pardons Vatican butler
Paolo Gabriele, the pope's former major-domo, was convicted of leaking confidential documents. The Pope pardoned him after a meeting at the Vatican jail.
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The Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said the meeting was "intense" and "personal" and said that during it Benedict "communicated to him in person that he had accepted his request for pardon, commuting his sentence."Skip to next paragraph
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Lombardi said the Vatican hoped the Benedict's pardon and Gabriele's freedom would allow the Holy See to return to work "in an atmosphere of serenity."
None of the leaked documents threatened the papacy. Most were of interest only to Italians, as they concerned relations between Italy and the Vatican and a few local scandals and personalities. Their main aim appeared to be to discredit Benedict's trusted No. 2, the secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone.
Vatican officials have said the theft, though, shattered the confidentiality that typically governs correspondence with the pope. Cardinals, bishops and everyday laymen write to him about spiritual and practical matters assuming that their words will be treated with the discretion for which the Holy See is known.
As a result, the leaks prompted a remarkable reaction, with the pope naming a commission of three cardinals to investigate alongside Vatican prosecutors. Italian news reports have said new security measures and personnel checks have been put in place to prevent a repeat offense.
Gabriele insisted he acted alone, with no accomplices, but it remains an open question whether any other heads will roll. Technically the criminal investigation remains open, and few in the Vatican believe Gabriele could have construed such a plot without at least the endorsement if not the outright help of others. But Lombardi said he had no new information to release about any new investigative leads, saying the pardon "closed a sad and painful chapter" for the Holy See.
Nuzzi, who has supported Gabriele as a hero for having exposed corruption in the Vatican, tweeted Saturday that it appeared the butler was thrilled to speak with the pope and go home. "Unending joy for him, but the problems of the curia and power remain," he wrote, referring to the Vatican bureaucracy.
A Vatican computer expert, Claudio Sciarpelletti, was convicted Nov. 10 of aiding and abetting Gabriele by changing his testimony to Vatican investigators about the origins of an envelope with Gabriele's name on it that was found in his desk. His two-month sentence was suspended. Lombardi said a pardon was expected for him as well. He recently returned to work in the Vatican.
Benedict met this past week with the cardinals who investigated the origins of the leaks, but it wasn't known if they provided him with any further updates or were merely meeting ahead of the expected pardon for Gabriele.
As supreme executive, legislator and judge in Vatican City, the pope had the power to pardon Gabriele at any time. The only question was when.