.- Pope Benedict is âsufferingâ but serene, despite the prosecution of his butler for stealing sensitive papal documents and the continuing police hunt to find any accomplices.
âHe is aware of the delicate situation that the Roman curia is going through, but he is keeping up his serenity with great faith and moral superiority as you saw in yesterdayâs celebrations,â papal spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi said May 28.
Paolo Gabriele is still in custody after being charged on Saturday, May 26 with the âaggravated theftâ of confidential Vatican documents found in his apartment.
The 46-year-old Italian, a father of three, has worked in the Papal Household under both Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI. He is one of very few individuals who have daily access to the Pope.
In a statement issued May 28, Gabrieleâs attorney said his client would offer âthe most comprehensive collaborationâ in all subsequent legal proceedings. He also said that the Popeâs butler had been âvery peaceful and tranquilâ during their recent discussions.
Fr. Lombardi confirmed that the Vaticanâs chief prosecutor, Nicola Picardi, has now completed the first phase of the investigation into Gabrieleâs activities, which resulted in the decision to bring charges.
Vatican magistrate Piero Antonio Bonnet will now carry out a second phase of the investigation to decide whether those charges should be tried in court or dropped.
While the criminal investigation continues, Fr. Lombardi played down speculation in the Italian media that Vatican police are about to swoop in on a wider network of conspirators, of which Gabriele is only a junior member.
âThe notion that an Italian Cardinal is being investigated is completely false,â said Fr. Lombardi. âI also categorically deny that a woman is being questioned in this case.â
The Vatican spokesman also added that it seemed both âexaggeratedâ and âunfoundedâ to ascribe recent events to power struggles within the Vatican.
The arrest of Gabriele followed several months of so-called âVatileaksâ in which numerous confidential documents about the internal workings of the Vatican were passed on to the Italian media.
Earlier this month, Italian journalist Gianluigi Nuzzi released a new book entitled âSua Santitaâ (His Holiness), which contained a series of leaked letters addressed personally to Pope Benedict XVI. The author claimed to have more than one source of information from inside the Vatican.
In April, Pope Benedict responded to the spate of leaks by establishing a special commission of three cardinals, chaired by the Spanish Cardinal Julian Herranz, to investigate their source.
Fr. Lombardi confirmed that cardinals are continuing their work in parallel with the ongoing police investigation.