POSTED: 03:46 a.m. HST, May 28, 2012
LAST UPDATED: 03:48 a.m. HST, May 28, 2012
VATICAN CITY >> One of the Vatican's biggest scandals in decades appears to be widening with reports that an Italian cardinal may be involved in a power struggle involving leaked documents, corruption and intrigue. The pope's butler, who has been arrested in the scandal, has pledged to cooperate in the probe.
Leading Italian newspapers Corriere della Sera and Il Messaggero reported Monday that the pope's butler — arrested three days ago for allegedly feeding documents to Italian journalists — clearly did not act alone, and that an unidentified cardinal is suspected of playing a major role in the scandal.
However, the Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, denied the reports that a cardinal might be the next target of the "Vatileaks" probe. He said many Vatican officials were being questioned in the investigation but insisted: "There is no cardinal under suspicion."
Meanwhile, the lawyer for the pope's butler says his client has pledged "full cooperation" in the investigation and wants the truth to come out.
The commitment by butler Paolo Gabriele to cooperate with Vatican investigators raises the specter that higher-ranking prelates may soon be named in the scandal over leaks of confidential Vatican correspondence that have shed light on power struggles and intrigue inside the highest levels of the Catholic Church.
Attorney Carlo Fusco said in a statement Monday that Gabriele would "respond to all the questions and will collaborate with investigators to ascertain the truth."
Gabriele, the pope's personal butler since 2006, was arrested Wednesday evening after documents he had no business having in his possession were found inside his Vatican City apartment. He remains in detention in a Vatican detention facility, accused of theft, and has met with his wife and lawyers.
The 46-year-old father of three was always considered extremely loyal to Benedict and his predecessor, John Paul II, for whom he briefly served. Vatican insiders said they were baffled by his alleged involvement. Fusco reported Monday that Gabriele was "very serene and calm."
Gabriele's arrest gave the already sordid scandal of the leaks an unfathomable Hollywood twist. So far, he remains the only one who has been arrested, but Lombardi stressed that the investigation was continuing.
The probe is actually working on two separate tracks: Vatican magistrates are pursuing the criminal investigation, and Gabriele was arrested as part of that. Separately, Pope Benedict XVI appointed three cardinals to form an investigative commission to look beyond the narrow criminal scope of the leaks.
Those cardinals have the authority to interview broadly across the Vatican bureaucracy, Lombardi said, and can both share information with Vatican prosecutors and receive information from them.
They report directly to the pope, whom Lombardi said, was being kept informed of the investigation
Benedict has not commented directly on the scandal.
But he addressed participants in a march to St. Peter's Square on Sunday who demanded information on Emanuela Orlandi, the daughter of a Vatican messenger who disappeared in 1983 at the age of 15.
Various theories have surrounded her disappearance, linking her kidnapping to an attempt to free the Turkish gunman who shot John Paul in 1981, or to alleged Vatican financial dealings with a Rome criminal gang.