The Vatican has been forced to deny that a senior cardinal is the mastermind behind the so-called Vatileaks scandal that has seen the Pope’s personal butler arrested.
By Nick Pisa, Rome
Father Federico Lombardi, the Pope’s official spokesman, was forced to speak out after several Italian newspapers claimed that the brains of the operation – where potentially embarrassing Vatican documents found their way into the Italian press – was an unidentified “prince of the church.”
Speculation has continued to gather pace that senior Church figures are behind the leaking of sensitive Vatican documents and that butler Paolo Gabriele, who has worked for Benedict XVI for five years, is nothing more than a scapegoat. Gabriele was arrested last week after documents were found inside his Vatican apartment.
Several Italian newspaper carried an interview with an anonymous whistle-blower who explained why the documents were being leaked.
“There’s a group of us: the real brains behind it are cardinals, then there are monsignors, secretaries, small fry”, the informer said.
“The valet is just a delivery boy that somebody wants to set up. Vatican intelligence has security systems more advanced than anything the CIA has but cardinals are still in the habit of writing their messages by hand and dictating them.
“It’s open warfare, with everyone against everyone else. Those doing it are acting to protect the Pope.”
He added: “There are those opposed to the Secretary of State, Tarcisio Bertone. And those who think that Benedict XVI is too weak to lead the church. And those who think that this is the time to step forward. So it’s become everyone against everyone.”
The source also explained how Benedict had gathered a select group of five people to act as his eyes and ears within the Vatican “to protect himself”.
Within hours of the interview being published Father Lombardi issued a denial categorically stating “no cardinal was involved and no one else is under investigation.”
Elsewhere Cardinal Robert Sarah, 67, head of the Pontifical Council Cor Um, which handles church missions around the world was the first senior figure within the Curia to speak out about the scandal.
“Let’s hope that the arrest of the butler is an isolated case and that there are no other traitors plotting in the Vatican,” he said. “There is much sadness. It is painful to see someone like the Holy Father betrayed by someone who is so close to him.
“However it would be even more serious if other accomplices came to light. That’s why we must let the magistrates investigate fully to clarify this shocking situation and until then nothing can be excluded including a plot or some other guided hand.”