Pope Benedict XVI is reported to be “shocked and saddened” by the arrest of his valet, Paolo Gabriele, who has served in the Pope's inner circle for six years.
The Holy Father was informed of Gabriele’s arrest and detention after the papal assistant was found to be “in illegal possession” of confidential Vatican documents.
More details emerged today of what is said to have been found in his apartment. Vaticanista Marco Tosatti of La Stampa, quoting unnamed Vatican sources, has reported that a “staggering amount” of confidential material kept in boxes was discovered by investigators, including equipment needed to photograph and reproduce documents.
Other leaked documents, published in the book “His Holiness: The Secret Papers of Benedict XVI” by Gianluigi Nuzzi, such as correspondence relating to the Secretary of State and Nunciatures around the world, were not discovered, giving weight to the theory that others have been involved in the scandal.
Nuzzi writes in his book that his main source told him he was acting as part of a “small group” of Vatican insiders concerned about corruption and a thirst for power within the Vatican, but that none of the moles knew who the others were. The alleged "boss" of the moles - someone code-named "Maria" – claimed in a Feb. 22 television interview that at least twenty other "deep throats" were at work.
Meanwhile, a former confessor of Gabriele remains incredulous that he should be suspected of such a crime, describing him as "a man who is in love with the Church and deeply devoted to the Pope."
This afternoon, Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi released the following statement, confirming that Paolo Gabriele has been charged:
“I confirm that the person arrested Wednesday night for illegal possession of confidential documents, found in his apartment in Vatican territory, is Mr. Paulo Gabriele, who remains in custody.
It concludes the first phase of a "summary investigation" under the direction of the Promoter of Justice, Prof. Nicola Picardi, and the start of a "formal investigation" phase conducted by the investigating judge, Prof. Piero Antonio Bonnet.
The defendant has appointed two lawyers of his choice, to act at the Vatican Tribunal, and has had a chance to meet them. They will assist in subsequent stages of the proceedings. He enjoys all the legal guarantees provided by the criminal codes and criminal procedure in force in Vatican City State.
The investigatory phase will continue until an adequate picture of the situation being investigated has emerged, after which the investigating magistrate will either acquit the suspect or send him for trial.”
In a further statement published May 28th, Fr. Lombardi denied allegations circulating in the Italian press that cardinals and a woman are under investigation.
L'Osservatore Romano today (May 29th) published an interview with the No. 3 at the Vatican, Archbishop Angelo Becciu, who as "sostituto" is responsibe for the day-to-day running of the Vatican. "The Pope was not merely robbed of letters," he said. "Violence has been done to the consciences of those who turn to him as Vicar of Christ, an assault has been made on the ministry of the Successor of the Apostle Peter." When it was put to the archbishop that a motive was the Church's cleanliness, transparency and reform, he replied: "There can be no renewal that tramples on the moral law, even on the basis of the principle that the end justifies the means, a principle which, among other things, is not Christian."
While he discusses the Pope's sorrow at the disclosures, he says the Holy Father "is not lacking in the serenity that leads him to govern the Church with determination and clear-sightedness".