The butler did it! Pope's butler is the leak behind Vatileaks

VatiLeaks is pretty much what it sounds like: leaks from the Vatican, which culminated in, "Your Holiness: The Secret Papers of Benedict XVI," a blockbusting book from journalist Gianluigi Nuzzi, who cites a Vatican source called "Maria" for leaking sensitive letters address to Benedict XVI. Now police have arrested a man whom the press identifies as the Pope's butler, who is accused of being VatiLeaks's Maria. From the NYT:

An on-again-off-again scandal that the Italian press has called VatiLeaks burst into the open on Friday with the arrest by Vatican gendarmes of a man, identified in news reports as Paolo Gabriele, the pope’s butler, who the Vatican said was in possession of confidential documents and was suspected of leaking private letters, some of which were addressed to Pope Benedict XVI.

In Vatican Whodunit, a Punch Line of a Suspect (via Making Light)


  1. So he’s the one that leaked that the Pope was dressing up at night and fighting crime. They don’t make butlers like they used to.

    1. Dressing up at night, sure. But I don’t think it was fighting crime.

      I sure hope this guy knows how dead-man releases work. I’m going to be sincerely shocked if he’s breathing a week from now.

  2. Question – Why would someone who is the voice for god, need to keep any secrets?

    1. Well, as one example, Popes have secretly appointed bishops in countries where Catholics are persecuted.

      1. As someone persecuted by the church and its followers, my response is boo freaking hoo.
        I’ve never molested a child or participated in a cover up of those acts, pretty sure anything I’ve done pales in comparison to their acts but I’m still the bad guy.

        Could it be they are being persecuted by people just returning the favor?  Convert or starve maybe wasn’t the right way to do things.

  3. But nobody seems concerned about the butler, who is now entombed somewhere in the Vatican, presumably. Since it is legally a separate country from Italy, I wonder what their due process procedures might be.  Do they have any?  History is probably not encouraging.  Not exactly a free and open society. 

      1.  Yeah, there was a similar deal during the inquisition. The Church never executed anyone, that was done strictly by the state–but **accusing**, torturing and handing over for execution, that was done by the Church.

        1. Italy is the Vatican’s parasitic twin.  They’ve been through this shower routine ten thousand times.

      2. “He’ll be jailed in Italy. They have a deal.”

        By “he” you mean Benedict, right…? 

        Lie to me just once this night…

    1. From the BBC (doesn’t exactly answer your question):
      ❝ The Vatican’s judge, Piero Antonio Bonnet, has been instructed to examine the evidence of the case and to decide whether there is sufficient material to proceed to trial.
      Mr Gabriele has nominated two lawyers capable of representing him at a Vatican tribunal, and has met with them.
      He would, the Vatican has said, have “all the juridical guarantees foreseen by the criminal code of the State of Vatican City”.
      As the Vatican has no jail, Mr Gabriele is being held in one of the three so-called “secure rooms” in the offices of the Vatican’s tiny police force inside the walled city-state, Reuters reports.
      If convicted, he could face a sentence of up to 30 years for illegal possession of documents of a head of state, probably to be served in an Italian prison due to an agreement between Italy and the Vatican, Italian media report .❞

      1. “If convicted, he could face a sentence of up to 30 years for illegal possession of documents of a head of state,”

        Oh, good grief. For a holding documents of a head of state who isn’t really a head of state, just head of a religion based in Italy. The Vatican is not a real country any more than Sea Land is, just a convenient legal fiction to give the Church immunity from taxation and criminal culpability.

        1. I know that Anti-Catholizism is one of the deepest-held bias in the USA and UK but the Vatican IS a real Country, with a history far older than e.g. the USA. Perhaps you should brush up your history. 

          “religion based in Italy” – Sounds like Benedict is the leader of a small cult in Italy but the Roman Catholic Church is the world’s largest church with more than a billion members.

          1.  Nonsense.  The Vatican’s only claim to statehood is because Mussolini declared it a state.  It is not a  “real” country, nor is its history as a state anywhere close to being as long as the U.S.

            If anyone is showing bias, it is you, ffabian.

          2. @boingboing-9639f5b663c894c6eebf0f36beae2c5d:disqus  sorry dude, I’m as anti-Catholic as you’ll ever find, but the Vatican *is* indeed a proper State. Their diplomatic corps are infamous for their skills, and their sovereign funds are renowned for their opacity.

            I’d personally vote to put an end to the farce, but Catholics are still an overwhelming majority across Italy. Not that many of them really listen to the Church anymore, but for them it’s a bit like the Her Majesty in Britain: a colourful old geezer who can rope in boatloads of tourists, and reminds you that you have grannies you should visit more often.

        2. I encountered a very similar problem at Disney World….  It was a Kafkaesque experience…. 

    2. If he isn’t outright killed, the butler could hardly end up worse than the American soldier responsible for the earlier Wikileaks, Bradley Manning. Manning is practically ‘entombed’ in America!

  4. Rumor has it that the documents involved are several choice issues of “Tights and Miters: A Potpourri of Popery” that the butler lifted from the collection of His Holiness.

  5. Glad this happened without a drawn out inquisition. The Jewish people have suffered enough.

  6.  Don’t forget, attempt to ordain a women: Instant excommunication, no questions asked. Serial rape of children by priests? Get a free new post. Not a single excommunication that I’ve heard of.

    1. Forgiveness of sins is for the sake of the non-sinners – a redemptive break from the past once the Church no longer exists. It’s days are numbered. That’s fucking evident. They keep saying so.


  8. Why would the Vatican need to bother with earthly prisons? Couldn’t they just arrange some extra years in purgatory once the butler dies?

    1. Purgatory is a… controversial topic among the Cult. Think about it: if everyone could just pay for their sins with a brief stint in limbo, the incentive to actually not commit those sins would reduce quite dramatically. So it’s basically only used for pre-Jesus personalities who cannot be ignored, like Greek philosophers, i.e. people who couldn’t know about “the Right Way”, but nonetheless spoke the truth (or something the Cult likes or needs). I believe the current “Man in White” himself at one point denied that Purgatory was an actual place where souls could hang around.

      1. Purgatory and limbo are different things. Purgatory is a temporary state (formerly considered a place) of unhappiness where the dead go before going on to heaven. The more you sinned in life, the longer you spend there, and going to confession doesn’t keep you out of it- confession just stops you going to Hell instead.

        Limbo, on the other hand, was a place where the virtuous unbaptised went because they weren’t sinful enough to go to Hell but weren’t Christian so couldn’t get into Heaven. It contained a rather strange mix of Greek philosophers (plus other virtuous pagans) and babies who died before they could be baptised. Belief in limbo was abolished by the current pope who said that its inhabitants are in heaven. Given that I know at least one person whose faith was destroyed by the idea of limbo, it does seem to be a good thing it’s gone.

        1. If Ockham’s razor were literal, exactly how big would it have to be to trim all this fat off?

  9. I had a plumb witty comment all worked out concerning the butler presenting evidence of Europe’s largest money laundering business and being told to get some NEW evidence but then I RTFA and I found this gem, which trumps anything I could ever make up:

    “It doesn’t seem likely that he is the only one responsible for VatiLeaks because many of the documents that came out didn’t ever pass through the pope’s apartment where he works,” said Paolo Rodari, a Vatican expert for the Italian daily Il Foglio. “His arrest seems more the Vatican’s desire to find a scapegoat.”


  10. The vatileaks website seems somewhat trashy.  As far as I can tell, they’re selling a book.

    1. AFAICT that website has nothing to do with the current scandal, or with the true corruption in the Roman Catholic Church. It’s full of rehashed Anglo-Saxon Anti-Popery, it reminds me of the websites peddling the Protocols of the Elders of Sion or the Reptilian conspiracy.

  11. Picture angry Cardinals and a Pope singing;

    How do you solve a problem like Maria?
    How do you catch a cloud and pin it down?
    How do you find a word that means Maria?
    A flibbertijibbet! A will-o’-the wisp! A clown!

  12. Yes, it’s a good punchline. But it’s also quite the assumption that the person arrested is the “guilty party,” something I expect BoingBoing of all places to recognize and not make the headline of a piece.

    Between this and the lazy “stupid NASA paper bureaucracy vs.awesome SpaceX widescreens” assumption I’m a little disappointed in the last couple of days of BB.

    (Yes, I should post more when I am pleased, but I am almost always pleased and generally just share with friends instead of dropping a note of praise here. Take this as my note to self to let you know how often I think this is great and not just when I’m prickled by something.)

    1. Consider that on BoingBoing it may be that the guilty party of such a debacle as this is more likely to be celebrated than berated for their actions. 

  13. Great!  They’ve caught the guy leaking information to the press.  Now that they have that out of the way maybe they can do something about all these pesky child molesters just getting shuffled from one place to another and being swept under the rug while they continue to rape children which is still going on even after years of the Catholic Church being dragged through the mud and court for it.

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