ROME — Just 10 days after the pope’s butler was arrested in an investigation into Holy See leaks, an Italian daily Sunday published fresh whistleblower letters, suggesting the scandal is far from over.
Three new documents filched from the Vatican were sent to La Repubblica by an anonymous source in another blow for the Holy See, which has played down rumours that top clerics may be orchestrating a number of informers.
“The truth can be found at the top of the hierarchy,” the source said in a letter accompanying the documents, apparently accusing one of Pope Benedict XVI’s personal secretaries, Georg Gaenswein, of allowing secrets to slip out.
Gaenswein, who has access to the pope’s personal study, has been passing highly secret documents to the Holy See’s number two, Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone — some of which then ended up splashed in the media — the whistleblower said.
“Kick out of the Vatican those who are really responsible for the scandal: Mr. Gaenswein and Cardinal Bertone,” the source said, adding that the new documents it had revealed referred to “shameful events inside the Vatican.”
Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi brushed off the episode as “neither surprising nor worrying” and told a news conference that the pope was “not frightened by the situation caused by the leak of private documents.”
The secret papers have lifted the lid on deep-seated venom among rival figures in the Vatican, and experts have said the leaks scandal is an attempt to unseat Bertone, who is considered by some to wield too much power.
The plot may run even deeper. According to reports, the leaks are being orchestrated by disgruntled cardinals who believe Pope Benedict XVI is weak and who have already begun preparing to get their own man elected as future pope.
The documents, splashed in the Italian press and published in a recent book, have shed light on many Vatican secrets, including the Church’s tax problems, child sex scandals and negotiations with hardline traditionalist rebels.
The whistleblower told La Repubblica that butler Paolo Gabriele, who was caught in possession of documents, was “merely a scapegoat.”
His arrest was met with disbelief as the 46-year-old was known for his papal devotion and loyalty, and there has been widespread speculation that he was simply a pawn in a game of intrigue in a struggle for power.
On Sunday, a group of supporters carrying green balloons and accompanied by members of the clergy gathered in Saint Peter’s Square to pray for Gabriele.
“I’ve known him for years, he’s an honest person,” Paola Desiderio, one of the organisers, told the ANSA news agency. “Paolo is pure. If he did anything he only did it for the Church’s good,” said another.
Among many theories on the motives behind the leaks, some Vatican watchers have said the whistleblowers believe they are acting for the pope’s own good, trying to rid the Church of shady members and practices.
The Vatican last week said the investigation into the leaks is ongoing, and there may be more arrests to come.