Vatican leaks: Pope denounces "gratuitous" coverage

Pope Benedict XVI waves during his weekly general audience Pope Benedict said he was saddened by the scandal

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The Pope has broken his silence on the Vatican leaks scandal, expressing his anger at the way some parts of the media are covering the story.

Pope Benedict XVI said "exaggerated" and "gratuitous" reports were painting a false image of the Holy See.

A series of leaks has revealed allegations of corruption, mismanagement and internal conflicts.

The Pope's butler has been charged with illegally obtaining private papal documents and memos.

Paolo Gabriele, who lives with his wife and children in a Vatican flat, where a stash of confidential documents was allegedly discovered, has pledged "full co-operation" with the investigation.

The Vatican has denied Italian media reports suggesting that Mr Gabriele, 46, had not acted alone, but was part of a group of 20 or so whistleblowers led by a cardinal.

'Sadness'

During his weekly address in St Peter's Square, the Pope said: "Suggestions have multiplied, amplified by some media, which are totally gratuitous and which have gone well beyond the facts, offering an image of the Holy See which does not respond to reality."

He also spoke of the impact of the charges against Mr Gabriele, his valet for many years and one a very limited number of people who had access to his private apartments.

The Pope's butler, Paolo Gabriele (bottom left) arrives with Pope Benedict  at the Vatican (23 May 2012). Paolo Gabriele (bottom left) was the Pope's personal valet from 2006

"The events of recent days about the Curia [Vatican ecclesiastical officials] and my collaborators have brought sadness in my heart," he said.

He added that he was grateful to those who had continued to work alongside him "every day, with loyalty and a spirit of sacrifice and in silence".

On Tuesday, the Vatican undersecretary of state, Archbishop Angelo Becciu, called the reports a "brutal" attack on the Pope.

"It's not just that the Pope's papers were stolen, but that people who turned to him as the vicar of Christ have had their consciences violated," he told the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano.

The scandal began in January, when Italian journalist Gianluigi Nuzzi revealed letters from a former top Vatican administrator begging the Pope not to transfer him for having exposed alleged corruption.

The prelate involved, Monsignor Carlo Maria Vigano, is now the Vatican's US ambassador.

Last month, the Pope set up a special commission of cardinals to find the source of the confidential memos.

But in the space of a few days last week, the head of the Vatican's own bank was abruptly dismissed, Mr Gabriele was arrested and an entire book by Mr Nuzzi was published with reproductions of the Pope's private correspondence.

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