Gianluigi Nuzzi’s book Su Santità (“Your Holiness”) was a stunning expose of Vatican skullduggery. But even more stunning was the alleged source of the documents the journalist used to construct his portrait of infighting at the Holy See: Paolo Gabriele, the shy and pious butler to Pope Benedict XVI. As Stephan Faris reported in May on TIME.com:
“The documents include letters from high-profile Italian businessmen and media personalities, with bank checks attached, inquiring after favors or meetings with the pope. Others are warnings of nepotism and corruption from a high-level Vatican official in charge of financial reforms, who was later transferred. Many Vatican watchers have speculated that the drama is the fall out of a struggle for power between Pope Benedict XVI’s second-in-command, Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, and rival cardinals and the Vatican’s veteran diplomatic staff, which has resented him since his arrival.”
In a trial held in a secretive corner of the Vatican, Gabriele — who insisted he was only doing what he thought was best for Benedict, whom he felt was not fully informed — was sentenced to a year-and-a-half in prison for stealing sensitive documents. As Faris wrote in October: “It was a trial in which the pontiff was at the same time the victim, the person in whose name the crime had been committed, the authority under which the proceedings were being held—the judgment was delivered “in the name of His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI, gloriously reigning” — and the ultimate arbiter of whether the sentence will be carried out.” The Pope was expected to pardon the man who’d once been lovingly called Paoletto (Little Paul), but nearly two months after the sentencing, none was apparent.
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