Jamaica Gleaner
Published: Sunday | December 23, 2012
Home : International
Pope pardons butler
In this photo taken Wednesday, May 23, Pope Benedict XVI is seen with his private secretary Georg Gaenswein, (top left), and his now disgraced butler Paolo Gabiele. - AP
VATICAN CITY (AP):

Pope Benedict XVI yesterday granted his former butler a Christmas pardon, forgiving him in person during a jailhouse meeting for stealing and leaking private papers in one of the gravest Vatican security breaches in recent times.

After the 15-minute meeting, Paolo Gabriele was freed and returned to his Vatican City apartment where he lives with his wife and three children.

The Vatican said he couldn't continue living or working in the Vatican, but said it would find him housing and a job elsewhere soon.

"This is a paternal gesture towards someone with whom the pope for many years shared daily life," according to a statement from the Vatican secretariat of state.

The pardon closes a painful and embarrassing chapter for the Vatican, capping a sensational, Hollywood-like scandal that exposed power struggles, intrigue and allegations of corruption and homosexual liaisons in the highest levels of the Catholic Church.

Gabriele, 46, was arrested May 23 after Vatican police found what they called an "enormous" stash of papal documents in his Vatican City apartment.

He was convicted of aggravated theft by a Vatican tribunal on October 6 and has been serving his 18-month sentence in the Vatican police barracks.

He told Vatican investigators he gave the documents to Italian journalist Gianluigi Nuzzi because he thought the 85-year-old pope wasn't being informed of the "evil and corruption" in the Vatican and thought that exposing it publicly would put the church back on the right track.

The publication of the leaked documents, first on Italian television then in Nuzzi's book His Holiness: Pope Benedict XVI's Secret Papers convulsed the Vatican all year, a devastating betrayal of the pope from within his papal family that exposed the unseemly side of the Catholic Church's governance.

The papal pardon had been widely expected before Christmas, and the jailhouse meeting Benedict used to personally deliver it recalled the image of Pope John Paul II visiting Ali Agca, the Turkish gunman who shot him in 1981, while he served his sentence in an Italian prison.

As supreme executive, legislator and judge in Vatican City, the pope had the power to pardon Gabriele even before he went to trial. The only question was when it would come.

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