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Vatican in chaos after butler arrested for leaks

VATICAN CITY — An already sordid scandal over leaked Vatican documents took a Hollywood-like turn Saturday with confirmation that the pope's own butler had been arrested after documents he had no business having were found in his Vatican City apartment.

The detention of butler Paolo Gabriele, a lay member of the papal household, capped one of the most convulsive weeks in recent Vatican history and threw the Holy See into chaos as it enters a critical phase in its efforts to show the world it is serious about complying with international norms on financial transparency.

The tumult began with the publication last weekend of a book of leaked Vatican documents detailing power struggles, political intrigue and corruption in the highest levels of Catholic Church governance. It peaked with the ouster on Thursday of the president of the Vatican bank. And it concluded with confirmation Saturday that Pope Benedict XVI's butler was the alleged mole feeding documents to Italian journalists in an apparent bid to discredit the pontiff's No. 2.

The book, His Holiness, by Italian journalist Gianluigi Nuzzi, presents a trove of documents including personal correspondence to the pope and his secretary — many of them painting Benedict's No. 2, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, in a negative light. Nuzzi is also the author of Vatican SpA, a 2009 volume laying out shady dealings of the Vatican bank based on leaked documents.

"If you wrote this in fiction you wouldn't believe it," said Carl Anderson, a member of the board of the Vatican bank which contributed to the tumult with its no-confidence vote in its president, Ettore Gotti Tedeschi.

The bank, known as the Institute for Religious Works, issued a scathing denunciation of Gotti Tedeschi in a memo obtained Saturday by the Associated Press. The bank explained its reasons for ousting Gotti Tedeschi: he routinely missed board meetings, failed to do his job, failed to defend the bank, polarized its personnel and displayed "progressively erratic personal behavior."

The board also accused Gotti Tedeschi of leaking documents: The memorandum from the bank said he "failed to provide any formal explanation for the dissemination of documents last known" to be in his possession.

Gotti Tedeschi hasn't commented publicly about his ouster and hasn't been arrested, avoiding the fate that befell Gabriele.

The butler, a 46-year-old father of three, has been in Vatican detention since Wednesday after investigators discovered documents in his apartment. A Vatican spokesman said Gabriele had met with his lawyers and the investigation was taking its course through the Vatican's judicial system.

Vatican in chaos after butler arrested for leaks 05/26/12 [Last modified: Saturday, May 26, 2012 8:48pm]
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