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Pope's butler arrested over leaks

An already sordid scandal over leaked Vatican documents took a Hollywood-like turn with news that the Pope's butler had been arrested after Holy See papers were found in his apartment.

The detention of Paolo Gabriele, 46, one of the few members of the papal household, capped one of the most convulsive weeks in recent Vatican history as it enters a critical phase in its efforts to show the world it is serious about complying with international norms on financial transparency.

The tumult began with the publication last weekend of a book of leaked Vatican documents detailing power struggles, political intrigue and corruption in the highest levels of Catholic Church governance.

It peaked with the inglorious ousting on Thursday of the president of the Vatican bank and concluded with confirmation on Saturday that Pope Benedict XVI's butler was the alleged mole, feeding documents to Italian journalists in an apparent bid to discredit the pontiff's second-in-command.

"If you wrote this in fiction you wouldn't believe it," said Carl Anderson, a member of the board of the Vatican bank which passed a no-confidence vote in its president, Ettore Gotti Tedeschi. "No editor would let you put it in a novel."

The bank, known as the Institute for Religious Works, issued a scathing denunciation of Mr Gotti Tedeschi in a memorandum obtained by The Associated Press. In it, the bank, or IOR by its Italian initials, explained its reasons for ousting Mr Gotti Tedeschi, saying he routinely missed board meetings, failed to do his job or defend the bank, polarised its staff and displayed "progressively erratic personal behaviour".

Mr Gotti Tedeschi was also accused by the board of leaking documents himself. The memorandum said he "failed to provide any formal explanation for the dissemination of documents last known" to be in his possession. Mr Anderson stressed that the latter accusation was independent of the broader "Vatileaks" scandal that has rocked the Vatican for months, but said: "It is not an insignificant issue."

Mr Gotti Tedeschi has not commented publicly about his ousting or the reasons behind it, saying he has too much admiration for the Pope to do so. He has not been arrested, avoiding the fate that befell father-of-three Gabriele.

Gabriele has been in Vatican detention since Wednesday after investigators discovered Holy See documents in his apartment. Vatican spokesman, the Rev Federico Lombardi, said Gabriele had met his lawyers and that the investigation was taking its course through the Vatican's judicial system.

Gabriele has been the Pope's personal butler since 2006 and has often been seen by Benedict's side in public, riding in the front seat of his open-air vehicle during Wednesday general audiences or shielding the pontiff from the rain. In private, he is a member of the small papal household that also includes the Pope's private secretaries and four consecrated women who care for the papal apartment.

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