Paolo Gabriele, who had been at the origin of the first so-called Vatileaks case for having transmitted to the press several confidential documents of Benedict XVI, when he was the pope's butler, died at the age of 54, on November 24, 2020.
The former member of the pontifical family under Benedict XVI leaves behind a wife and three children. He was the protagonist in 2012 of the first “Vatileaks,” the theft of confidential documents from the Pope’s own apartment, some of which were subsequently published in a book purporting to denounce “corruption” at the Vatican.
Arrested at the end of May 2012, tried by the Holy See’s justice system the following September and October, sentenced for “aggravated theft,” Paolo Gabriele had put the vulnerability at that time of the pope’s workspace in evidence: the certitude of being able to write or speak to the Pope in complete confidentiality was suddenly shattered.
The 2012 trial confirmed that the ex-butler was able to steal over a thousand important documents, including some of the most confidential, year after year, with startling ease.
In the course of the Vatican investigation - at least the part that leaked into the press - disturbing personalities emerged: like that of the cardinal-patron of the Order of Malta at the time, Mgr. Paolo Sardi. The latter admitted to being the “confidant” of the former butler. He was also, and for a long time, one of the leaders of Josef Ratzinger’s opposition.
The same Cardinal Sardi had also forged links with Ingrid Stamps, one of Benedict XVI’s former housekeepers, who regularly met Paolo Gabriel in the papal apartment.
Sentenced to eighteen months in prison - which will be reduced to a few weeks - Paolo Gabriele met the German Pope for the last time, who informed him of his forgiveness, on the day before Christmas Eve 2012.
Proof that the Vatican does not hold a grudge: the ex-convict was offered a job at Rome’s pediatric hospital, Bambino Gesu. With one last recommendation: don’t publish anything in the future, in a new book.
If secrets still exist, the former butler is definitely taking them - perhaps - to the grave.