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Pope Benedict talks to his former butler Paolo Gabriele during a private audience at the Vatican.

Pardoned Papal butler home in time for Christmas

Holy Father's forgiveness for man convicted for leaking private documents is gesture of 'paternal' care, sending a dad back to his family

Pope Benedict XVI visited his former-butler Paolo Gabriele in the Vatican prison this morning to personally tell him that he is forgiven and pardoned for his crimes.

Hopes for a Papal pardon were high when the press were called to the Vatican this morning for an announcement.

Mr Gabriele’s pardon was a ‘paternal gesture for a man ‘with whom the Pope shared a relationship of daily familiarity for many years,’ according to Fr Federico Lombardi, the Holy See press office director.

Following the 15 minute meeting with Pope Benedict, Mr Gabriele was subsequently released from prison and has returned home. Circumstances as they are, he cannot resume his previous occupation or continue to live in Vatican City, Fr Lombardi told journalists.

“Trusting in his sincere repentance, (the Pope) wishes to offer him the possibility of returning to a serene family life,” he added.

Mr Gabriele, 46, was arrested May 23 this year after Vatican police found Papal documents in his apartment. He had handed the Holy Father’s private and personal documents over to an Italian journalist who subsequently published them. On October 26, Mr Gabriele was convicted of aggravated theft by a Vatican tribunal and had been serving his 18-month sentence in the Vatican Gendarme police barracks prior to today’s pardon.

The father of three began working as the Pope’s butler in 2006. He served the Holy Father meals and helped him dress. He was one of just a handful of people with privileged access to the Papal apartments.

His co-defendant Claudio Sciarpelletti told investigators he knew about what he called Mr Gabriele’s ‘painful’ childhood although no further details were provided in court documents.

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