Paolo Gabriele, characterized as shy and unobtrusive, has been the butler and all-around personal assistant to Pope Benedict XVI since 2006. He began a secretive mission earlier this year of releasing private documents critical of the Pope and the Catholic administrators. People close to Paolo Gabriele, who is a layman, see him as idealistic, a gentleman with a desire to help. His role as butler to the Pope placed him near the Pontiff daily, and he was often seen during Benedict’s travels. Indeed Paoletto, as he is known, released hundreds of documents critical of the Vatican with silent deliberation. It is also known that the papal butler is preparing a book to give wider dissemination to the uncovered scandals.
The documents involved are described as an exposé of growing turmoil and power-wielding among various factions. In releasing them, it appears Pablo Gabriele was attempting to shed light on alleged mismanagement, corruption, and cronyism. Some documents released to Italian newspapers allege corruption in Vatican business dealings with Italian companies, the payment of inflated prices for work, and clashes over the management of the Vatican bank.
Copy equipment and documents were found in the butler’s living quarters. Subsequently, Gabriele was detained in the Vatican prison. Currently he is under house arrest, and can only leave his quarters to attend mass.
Gabriele is expected to ask His Holiness for pardon. If pardon is not forthcoming, the papal butler may have to serve some time in an Italian jail, this in accordance with a standing agreement between Vatican City and Italy. A Vatican magistrate along with Pope Benedict will make these decisions, and by the beginning of August it will be known whether a trial for Paoletto will be held.
Most see Gabriele as acting in good faith – for the good of the church, and with a strong desire to help. His lawyer called the actions an “act of love” for the Pope, and a bid to make the Catholic Church “more alive.”
Photo credit: UK Guardian