The Pope’s butler called a ‘scapegoat’ as more documents are leaked
Pope Benedict got no rest on Sunday from a leaks scandal when an Italian newspaper published documents showing that his butler was not the only person in possession of confidential correspondence indicating a Vatican in disarray.
Benedict, 85, ended a weekend trip to Italy’s industrial and financial capital Milan with a closing mass for an international gathering in which he praised traditional Catholic family values and re-stated his opposition to gay marriage.
But in its Sunday edition, the Rome newspaper La Repubblica published documents it said it had received anonymously after the arrest of the pope’s butler on May 23.
A note received by the newspaper said there were “hundreds more” documents and that the butler, Paolo Gabriele, was just a scapegoat.
The furore over the leaked correspondence, which shows power-hungry cardinals and scheming within the walls of the city state, has gripped the Vatican just as it was recovering from a long-running scandal over sexual abuse by Roman Catholic priests in the United States, Ireland and other countries.
One letter, dated January 16, was sent by Cardinal Raymond Burke, an American who heads a Vatican department, to the pope’s secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone.
Burke complains that a decision regarding a liturgical matter was taken without consulting his office, which is responsible for such matters.
The person who sent Repubblica the documents also provided two letters signed by the pope’s private secretary, Monsignor Georg Ganswein. The newspaper said those letters had everything but the letterhead and the signature whited out.
The newspaper said that in the note accompanying the documents, the person who sent them said the contents had been whited out “so as not to offend the Holy Father” but threatened to reveal the contents.
BUTLER HELD IN VATICAN “SAFE ROOM”
The butler Gabriele, who is being held in a “safe room” in the Vatican’s police station, is expected to be questioned this week by a Vatican prosecutor who will decide if there are grounds to order him to stand trial.
Gabriele, 45, is currently being held on charges of aggravated theft but if he is charged with divulging state secrets he could receive a prison sentence of up to 30 years.
The person who sent the documents to the paper said Bertone and Ganswein were “those really responsible for this scandal”.
During his weekend trip to Milan, the pope has made no reference to the affair, which began in January 2011 when an Italian television show first aired leaked documents alleging cronyism and corruption in the Vatican.
Last week, Italian journalist Gianluigi Nuzzi published the book “His Holiness,” which contained more documents.
In his sermon closing the event in Milan, the pope, speaking to a crowd of one million who had come from as far away as Zimbabwe and New Zealand, stressed again that the family must be based on marriage between man and woman and open to the possibility of having children.
The ceremony at a park in Milan’s northern outskirts was attended by Italian leaders including Prime Minister Mario Monti.
The pope made no mention of the leaks scandal but spoke of the damage to family life that modern society can inflict.
“The one-sided logic of sheer utility and maximum profit are not conducive to harmonious development, to the good of the family or to building a more just society” he said.
“(This) brings in its wake ferocious competition, strong inequalities, degradation of the environment, the race for consumer goods, family tensions,” he said.