Pope Benedict XVI on Wednesday blasted the media coverage of the so-called 'Vatileaks' affair after his butler, Paolo Gabriele was arrested last week for being in possession of illegally obtained confidential Church documents. Maltese Mgr Alfred Xuereb is part of restricted group of people with access to leaked documents but he is not suspected as having been involved.
Pope Benedict XVI has chosen Mgr Alfred Xuereb, an esteemed member of the Gozitan clergy and much loved at St George’s parish, as his new assistant personal secretary, flanking Mgr Georg Ganswein, the German priest that the Pope brought with him to the Apostolic Palace.
According to Gianluigi Nuzzi, the Italian journalist, who revealed many of the documents alleging corruption in the Vatican and internal conflict over the role of the Vatican bank, both Mgr Xuereb and Ganswein, together with four consecrated women of "Memores Domini", an association of lay women, similar to nuns, who take vows of poverty, chastity and obedience within the Catholic organisation Communion and Liberation have access to go directly into the papal apartments via the reserved private elevator at the base of the Sixtus V courtyard.
Nuzzi, a respected journalist with a good track record whose book “His Holiness: The Secret Papers of Benedict XVI,” contains some of the allegations, says his sources were simple, devout people “genuinely concerned about the Catholic Church” who wanted to expose corruption.
The butler, Paolo Gabriele, was arrested after the Vatican launched a probe into the leaking of sensitive Church papers to the Italian media earlier this year. The documents included a letter with allegations of corruption in the management of Vatican City sent to the pope from the Holy See's ambassador in Washington, Carlo Maria Vigano', when he was the deputy governor of Vatican City.
People who know Gabriele, who started out as a humble cleaning person in the Vatican, said there was no indication either that he could have been blackmailed over his private life to force him to leak the documents.
The Holy See has staunchly denied media speculation that high-ranking figures in the clergy, including cardinals, were also involved in the leaks.
The Church has also been hit by controversy after Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, the former President of the Vatican bank, last week stepped down as president of the Vatican Bank, officially called the Institute for Religious Works (IOR), following a no-confidence vote by the board of directors. Gotti Tedeschi said he was not revealing the truth about the case "out of love for the pope" after the Vatican said he had not been carrying out his duties properly.
Vatican experts said Gotti Tedeschi's split with the bank was likely linked to internal tensions regarding the Vatican's efforts to secure inclusion on the international 'white list' of countries which are considered to have acceptable financial transparency laws, unlike tax havens.
Ansa reported that his home was searched by police on Tuesday.
Gotti Tedeschi is not under investigation and the search has nothing to do with his work at the Vatican bank, which is officially called the Institute for Works of Religion (IOR), ANSA sources said.
The search was conducted as part of an investigation into alleged corruption at Italian defence and aerospace giant Finmeccanica. Gotti Tedeschi resigned from the IOR last month after its board passed a vote of no-confidence in him in a controversial move that hit newspaper headlines worldwide.