Pope comments on 'Vatileaks' scandal

Pope Benedict XVI recently delivered a message in response to the scandal involving a Vatican butler who was arrested for stealing confidential documents from the Roman Catholic Church.

In his remarks on Wednesday, the Pontiff spoke about the "Vatileaks" scandal publicly for the first time since the news was reported, with the intention of reassuring Catholics.

"The events of recent days involving the Curia and my collaborators have brought sadness to my heart," said the pope at the close of the Vatican's general audience.

"However, I have never lost my firm certainty that, despite the weakness of man, despite difficulties and trials, the Church is guided by the Holy Spirit and the Lord will ensure she never lacks the help she needs to support her on her journey."

Benedict XVI attributed much of the scandal to "increasing conjecture, amplified by the communications media, which is entirely gratuitous" that "goes beyond the facts and presents a completely unrealistic image of the Holy See."

Over the past several months Paolo Gabriele, a butler who worked at the Pope's household, had been sneaking confident papal correspondence into the public domain. The documents showcased various internal power struggles within the Vatican hierarchy, as well as possible corruption.

Last week Gabriele was arrested by Vatican police under the charge that he was the one leaking the documents out to media.

The incident has been dubbed by some as "VatiLeaks," alluding to "Wikileaks," which is a website that made public thousands of pages of classified government documents.

Kenneth F. Bunting, executive director for the National Freedom of Information Coalition at the Missouri School of Journalism, told The Christian Post that he did not see much similarity between the efforts of the butler and calls for open government.

"I do not see any real similarities. However, high profile leaks are often used as an excuse by those who wish to close off access to public information," said Bunting.

"I would not be surprised if the so-called 'Vatileaks' are mentioned in debates about transparency and openness in Congress and in state legislatures. But more likely than not, it will be a strawman, smokescreen issue."

In an interview with Vatican media, Archbishop Angelo Becciu, substitute for General Affairs of the Secretariat of State for Vatican City, explained that Gabriele's actions were "immoral."

"It is not just a serious violation of the privacy to which everybody should have the right, but a despicable abuse of the relationship of trust that exists between Benedict XVI and those who turn to him," said Becciu in an interview with the publication L'Osservatore Romano.

"The question does not merely involve the theft of some of the Pope's letters; the consciences of those who address him as the Vicar of Christ have been violated, and the ministry of the Successor of the Apostle Peter has come under attack."