Pope Pardons Butler Paolo Gabriele

Pope Benedict XVI pardoned his former butler, Paolo Gabriele, for leaking private Vatican papers.

Gabriele was sentenced to 18 months in prison for leaking the documents but was released shortly after the Pope’s visit.

Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said that the Pope visited Gabriele in prison today to “confirm his forgiveness.” The Pope then pardoned Gabriele and allowed him to leave the prison.

Lombardi said:

“This morning the Holy Father Benedict XVI visited Paolo Gabriele in prison in order to confirm his forgiveness and to inform him personally of his acceptance of Mr Gabriele’s request for pardon, thereby remitting the sentence passed against the latter. This constitutes a paternal gesture towards a person with whom the Pope shared a relationship of daily familiarity for many years.”

CNN reports that Gabriele was convicted earlier this year for the aggravated theft of the secret documents from the pontiffs home. Gabriele then leaked the documents to an author who published them in a book. Gabriele plead not guilty during the trial but admitted to abusing the Pope’s trust. Police, however, found thousands of documents stashed in Gabriele’s apartment in Vatican City.

Lombardi said that Gabriele will not be allowed to continue to live in Vatican City but the Pope “wishes to offer him the possibility of returning to a serene family life.”