The Italian journalist behind the Vatileaks scandal has defended the actions of the Pope's butler, saying he was trying to protect Benedict XVI from "wolves" circling him in the Holy See, according to a report in the UK Telegraph published by the Sydney Morning Herald.
Gianluigi Nuzzi called on the 85-year-old pontiff to pardon Paolo Gabriele, who was sentenced to 18 months in prison on Saturday after being found guilty by a Vatican court of stealing confidential papers from the Pope's offices.
Mr Nuzzi said a stream of cardinals and bishops approached the butler in the hope that through him they could communicate their unhappiness about the power games and intrigues allegedly taking place at the heart of the Catholic Church.
"Little by little Paolo Gabriele became the confidant of those who, among the bishops and cardinals, were like him torn between their sincere admiration for the Pope and concern over behind-the-scenes manoeuvring," Mr Nuzzi wrote in an article printed in newspapers in Spain, Germany and France.
The claim contradicts the Vatican's insistence that Mr Gabriele had only one collaborator, a computer expert. The technician, Claudio Sciarpelletti, is expected to go on trial next month for aiding and abetting the thefts.
Mr Nuzzi's article backs up the theory that the butler's trial was a cover-up and he may have been a small part of a much broader conspiracy.
Mr Nuzzi said the 46-year-old valet leaked confidential documents to publicise corruption, hypocrisy and "injustices" in the Holy See and because he thought the Pope was being kept in the dark.
"According to him, Benedict is a pure man in the midst of wolves," wrote Mr Nuzzi, who published many of the stolen papers in a book in May.
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