Open questions after “Vatileaks” and Pope’s resignation

Vatican insiders wonder whether the scandal surrounding the unfaithful butler Paolo Gabriele has moved Benedict XVI. to resign. Many questions remain unanswered after the “Vatileaks” affair.

According to journalists and Pope biographer Peter Seewald, the “Vatileaks” affair was not the reason for Benedict XVI’s resignation. The betrayal of his long-time servant Paolo Gabriele had neither thrown the Pope off track, nor tired of office, Seewald reported after a conversation with Benedict XVI. at the summer residence in Castel Gandolfo last August. BBut the case of the stolen papal documents that have partly publicly accessible, is one of the most spectacular scandals in the entire history of the Vatican.

Rumours about reasons for Pope resignation

So far, there has never been faced a that close collaborator of the Pope with such serious allegations. Therefore it cannot be ruled out, that the bitterness in consequence of the scandal, as well as the factional infighting among the Cardinals in the Curia have encouraged the Pope in his decision to resign. On Thursday the Italian newspaper “La Repubblica” wrote, that some Cardinals might be susceptible to blackmail, referring to a secret report regarding the “Vatileaks” affair, that three Cardinals had presented to the Pope on December 17 2012.

The report of the three-member Cardinal Commission about the scandal continues to be officially kept secret. Therefore it is still not known through which of the many duplicate letters and reports the Pope might have been susceptible to blackmail. Further there are circulating speculations, that the Italian intelligence service had obtained the material.

Open questions

After the imposition of a mild 18-month prison sentence against Gabriele and his pardon before Christmas, there remain many unanswered  questions about possible accomplices and the motives that may have led the 46-year-olds to the systematic theft of confidential documents of the Pope.

Also the rush with which the process was completed seems very suspicious to observers. The judge took the case to the end in only four days of trial, just in time for the start of a synod of bishops, and before the start of the “Year of Faith” for the 50th Anniversary of the Second Vatican Council. “It is obvious that the Vatican wanted to end the process in the shortest time possible,” commented on “La Repubblica”.

Gabriele, who had copied and leaked confidential documents to the Italian journalists Gianluigi Nuzzi for his best-selling book “Sua Santita” (“his Holiness”), had assured in an anonymously-run interview prior to his detention, that there are about 20 like-minded people in the Vatican. Investigations revealed that Gabriele “must have been influenced by some Cardinals”.

Motives still unclear

Also the motives, which have induced the Butler to the systematic theft of Papal documents since 2006, remain unclear for the most part. After all, the Vatican police had confiscated 82 boxes full of documents in Gabrieles apartment. Although the former valet assured, that he was acting “just out of deep love for the Church and its visible head”, and that he is a “contact man of the Holy Spirit against the evil and corruption”, observers however believe it is quite likely, that the butler had been manipulated and tricked to steal piles of secret documents, and to pass them on to the media. It is also difficult to understand why the Vatican Court accused Gabriele of aggravated theft, but not however of the defamation of Vatican institutions, secret violations and assault on the power of the Vatican State.

In the meantime, Gabriele, the father of a family, has a new job. He works in the administration of the Vatican City-State owned hospital. To get the job, Gabriele had to commit himself to secrecy in writing, about his years in the service of the Pontiff.

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