Pope’s butler faces charges over leak

Posted at 10:10 AM, Aug 13, 2012
and last updated 2012-08-13 10:10:19-04

(CNN) — Pope Benedict XVI’s butler will be charged with aggravated theft over the leaking of hundreds of secret papers from the pope’s personal apartment to an Italian journalist, a Vatican spokesman said Monday.

A second man, Vatican IT expert Claudio Sciarpelletti, will be charged with aiding the butler, Paolo Gabriele, according to the Rev. Federico Lombardi, a Vatican spokesman.

Gabriele, one of the pope’s closest personal assistants, was arrested in May on suspicion of passing the papers to an Italian journalist.

The scandal has rocked the Catholic Church hierarchy.

Gabriele was held in a special Vatican cell for about a month and a half before being released to house arrest in July.

The Vatican says Gabriele is cooperating with investigators and admits leaking the papers, which consisted of faxes, letters and several memos, including some from a high-ranking church official expressing concerns about corruption within the Vatican.

The arrest followed a top-level Vatican investigation into how the private documents appeared in the best-selling book “Sua Santita” (“His Holiness”) by Gianluigi Nuzzi, an Italian journalist.

The Vatican called the publication of his book “criminal” when it was released in Italian.

Cardinal Julian Herranz got a “pontifical mandate” in April to uncover the source of the hundreds of personal letters and confidential documents that made their way to Nuzzi.

Nuzzi would not confirm the identity of his sources, but he told CNN that his primary source — whom he referred to as “Maria” in his book — “risked life and limb” if ever found out.

The source worked inside the Vatican, according to Nuzzi, who refused to give other details such as the source’s gender, age and if he or she was clergy.

Nuzzi’s book highlights an internal power struggle within the Vatican through numerous documents including faxes, personal letters and inter-Vatican memos. He told CNN that he received the documents during a year of private meetings in secret locations.

The Vatican has not denied the authenticity of the documents, but instead says the breach of privacy is a criminal act.

– CNN’s Hada Messia and journalist Barbie Nadeau in Rome contributed to this report.