Vatican butler convicted in Benedict XVI leak case has died

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ROME – Paolo Gabriele, the Vatican butler, convicted of stealing and divulging the private papers of Pope Benedict XVI in 2012, has died. He was 54 years old. Vatican News, the media portal for the Holy See, said Gabriele died on Tuesday after a long, undisclosed illness.

The Gabriele case launched the first of two “Vatileaks” scandals, exposing internal turmoil and turf wars in the Holy See and allegations of corruption and wrongdoing at the highest levels of the Catholic Church.

Gabriele was arrested in May 2012 after Vatican police found what they called a “huge” stash of papal documents in his Vatican City apartment that he had stolen from the papal apartments.

Gabriele told Vatican investigators that he handed the documents to Italian journalist Gianluigi Nuzzi because he thought Benedict was unaware of the “evil and corruption” in the Vatican and thought exposing them publicly would hand over the church on the right track.

He was convicted of aggravated robbery by a Vatican court and served a few months of his 18-month sentence in the Vatican police barracks before Benedict pardoned him at Christmas 2012.

The Gabriele scandal would have played at least a small role in Benedict XVI’s final decision to resign from his post as pope two months later. In its Tuesday obituary, Vatican News noted that Gabriele had been a member of the Pontifical Family, the tight-knit circle of people who surround the Pope, and his betrayal was deeply felt.

After his release, Gabriele went to work for the Vatican Pediatric Hospital.

He is survived by a wife and three children.

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