Paolo Gabriele was arrested in his home inside Vatican City on Wednesday with secret documents in his possession, Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi said in a statement, according to CBC News.
Paolo Gabriele was often seen by Pope Benedict XVI’s side in public, riding in the front seat of his open-air jeep during Wednesday general audiences or shielding the pontiff from the rain.
He has been serving the Pope’s personal butler since 2006 and was one of the few members of the small papal household that also includes the pontiff’s private secretaries and four consecrated women who care for the papal apartment.
According to The Huff Post, the detention of Gabriele capped 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.
The turmoil began with the publication last weekend of a book of leaked Vatican documents detailing power struggles, political intrigue and corruption in the highest levels of Catholic Church governance.
Moreover, Daily Mail writes, the head of the bank, Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, who is already under investigation for money laundering resigned on Thursday after a vote of no confidence and initially there were rumours that he was the person responsible for the leak of documents.
“If you wrote this in fiction you wouldn’t believe it. No editor would let you put it in a novel,” ,” said Carl Anderson, a member of the board of the Vatican bank which contributed to the tumult with its no-confidence vote in its president, Ettore Gotti Tedeschi.
Gotti Tedeschi was accused by the board of leaking documents himself: according tp the memorandum from the Institute for Religious Works, as the bank is known, he “failed to provide any formal explanation for the dissemination of documents last known” to be in his possession.
His Holiness, a book published last week which reproduced confidential letters and memos to and from Benedict and his personal secretary was called by the Vatican “criminal.” The Vatican also vowed to take legal action against the author, publisher, and whoever leaked the documents.
The Vatican had already warned of legal action against the author, Italian journalist Gianluigi Nuzzi.
The Vatileaks scandal began in January when Italian journalist Gianluigi Nuzzi broadcast letters from the former No. 2 Vatican administrator to the pope in which he begged not to be transferred for having exposed alleged corruption that cost the Holy See millions of euros in higher contract prices.
The “Vatileaks” scandal has seriously embarrassed the Vatican just when it is trying to show the world financial community that it has turned a page and shed its reputation as a scandal plagued tax haven.
Vatican prosecutor Nicola Picardi was questioning Gabriele while the news was dominating Italian media with many describing the arrest as an ‘earthquake within the Holy Sea’ although some questioned if he was perhaps being made a scapegoat.
The Vatican has taken the leaks very seriously, with Benedict appointing a commission of cardinals to investigate. Vatican gendarmes as well as prosecutors are also investigating the sources of the leaks.