Benedict XVI’s former 'Vatileaks' butler Paolo Gabriele dies at age 54

CNA 4ea5c9fa88a32 5677 Paolo Gabriele sits in front of Pope Benedict XVI in the popemobile in St. Peter's Square Oct. 24, 2011. | Alan Holdren/CNA.

The papal butler who was pardoned by Benedict XVI for his role in the "Vatileaks" affair has died at the age of 54.

Vatican News announced Nov. 24 that Paolo Gabriele had died after a long illness, leaving a wife and three children.

Gabriele began serving as the German pope's personal butler in 2007. Five years later, he became embroiled in the Vatican leaks scandal. 

He was arrested on May 23, 2012, on suspicion of leaking classified papal documents to an Italian journalist. He was indicted on August 13 for aggravated theft. 

During his trial in October of that year, Gabriele told judges, "I do not feel like I'm a thief," adding that he "acted only out of visceral love for the Church of Christ and for its visible head on earth."

On Oct. 6, he was found guilty of theft and given a reduced sentence of 18 months. 

On Dec. 22, Benedict XVI visited Gabriele in his cell to inform him that he had pardoned him.

"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," a Vatican statement said.

Gabriele later worked at the Vatican's Bambino Gesù children's hospital.

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