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Vatican casts doubt on pardon for Pope's Butler as jail looms

Paolo Gabriele won’t appeal his conviction, and will go to prison – while a Vatican statement says his sentence is ‘just’.

Image: Andrew Medichini/AP

THE VATICAN has cast doubt on the prospect of the Pope’s former butler being granted a pardon after his conviction for leaking sensitive documents in what became known as the ‘Vatileaks’ scandal.

It was confirmed this morning that Paolo Gabriele, who was convicted of leaking the documents to a journalist who then wrote a book about them, will not appeal his 18-month jail sentence.

Because the Vatican does not itself have any jails, Gabriele will serve out his sentence in an Italian state facility.

In a communiqué issued after the news, the Vatican Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone said the decision not to appeal “puts a full stop to the end of a sad affair” – and hinted that the expected pardon from Pope Benedict may not be forthcoming.

“A personal offence was done to the Holy Father; the right to privacy of the many people who, by virtue of their office, addressed themselves to him was violated,” Bertone said.

“The Holy See and a number of her institutions suffered prejudice; communications between the bishops of the world and the Holy See were hindered, and scandal was caused among the community of the faithful.

“Finally, for a period of many months the serenity of the working community which daily serves the Successor of Peter was disturbed.”

Although the possibility of a pardon remains live, Bertone stressed that this was “a sovereign act on the part of the Holy Father” and depended not only on “repentance on the part of the accused” but “a sincere request for pardon” to the Pope and any of his victims.

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This could prove difficult – as it is difficult precisely to identify who was slighted by Gabriele’s leak, other than the Pope himself; it is possible that negotiations could be required to determine who exactly Gabriele would have to ask for forgiveness before the Pope could offer a pardon.

“In relation to the harm caused, the term inflicted appears both lenient and just, a fact due to the the specific nature of the legislative system from which it arises,” the statement added.

Read: Pope’s butler gets 18 months in jail for stealing secret Vatican documents

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Gavan Reilly

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