The Vatican has flatly denied European media reports that three officials close to Pope Benedict are being investigated in connection with the leaking of confidential paper documents.
A report in the online edition of the German newspaper Die Welt, republished in the Italian daily La Repubblica, claimed the involvement of the three officials in the Vatileaks scandal was uncovered by an investigative commission of cardinals, led by Cardinal Julian Herranz of Spain.
The officials are Italian Cardinal Paolo Sardi, Patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta; German Bishop Josef Clemens, secretary of the Pontifical Council for the Laity; and a German laywoman, Ingrid Stampa, who is Pope Benedict’s private secretary and housekeeper.
Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said dozens of Vatican officials have been questioned about the leaked documents, but “being called before a commission in the course of its investigations in no ways means that a person is a suspect”.
He said the media reports “seriously damage the honour of the people concerned, who have served the Holy Father faithfully for many years”.
The reports claimed that the three officials had been dismissed from office because of their involvement in the Vatileaks scandal.
In fact, said Father Lombardi, Bishop Clemens and Ingrid Stampa remain in their posts, and Cardinal Sardi completed his service at the Secretariat of State when he reached the age of 75.
In the meantime, Pope Benedict’s personal assistant Paolo Gabriele — who was arrested in May for possessing confidential papal documents — has been released from custody. He will remain under house arrest with his family in the Vatican pending his trial on a charge of aggravated theft.
Gabriele has written to the Pope, expressing “sorrow and contrition” for stealing the documents and asking to be pardoned.
If the Pope grants a pardon, this would avoid a trial and the possibility of a prison sentence of up to six years.
Image: Damir Jelic
News category: World News.