Pope Benedict XVI’s butler will be tried on a aggravated theft charge over the leaking of hundreds of secret papers from the pope’s personal apartment to an Italian journalist, a Vatican spokesman said Monday.
The butler, Paolo Gabriele, acted out of a desire to combat “evil and corruption everywhere in the Church,” according to a report by a judge investigating the case.
“I was certain that a shock … would have been healthy to bring the church back onto the right track,” the judge, Piero Antonio Bonnet, wrote in his report released Monday by the Vatican.
A second man, Vatican IT expert Claudio Sciarpelletti, will be charged with aiding Gabriele, according to the Rev. Federico Lombardi, a Vatican spokesman.
Sciarpelletti is not suspected of conspiring with Gabriele, merely assisting him, and is not under arrest, Lombardi said.
The investigation is continuing, said Lombardi, raising the possibility of more arrests.
The trials are not expected to start before September 20, Lombardi said.
Gabriele, one of the pope’s closest personal assistants, was arrested in May on suspicion of passing the papers to an Italian journalist. He faces the possibility of one to six years behind bars, Lombardi said.
The scandal has rocked the Catholic Church hierarchy and could even affect who becomes the next pope.
It could be an effort to unseat Benedict’s secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, who will run the conclave to choose the next pope if he is in office when Benedict dies, according to the Rev. Thomas Reese, author of “Inside the Vatican.”
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 said Gabriele cooperated with investigators and admits leaking the papers, which consisted of faxes, letters and 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 Italian journalist Gianluigi Nuzzi.
The Vatican called the publication of his book “criminal” when it was released in Italian.
Copies of some documents used in the book were found in the butler’s apartment, according to the judge’s report released Monday.
Gabriele was not paid for handing over the papers, according to the judge.
Cardinal Julian Herranz got a “pontifical mandate” in April to uncover the source of 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.
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