Christmas Pardon for Pope’s Valet

Earlier today, Pope Benedict XVI gave a wonderful gift to his former butler, Paolo Gabriele.  He pardoned him—and he forgave him.

Gabriele, you may remember, is the long-time personal valet who was implicated in the Vatileaks scandal when confidential Vatican documents were found in his Vatican City apartment.  Gabrielle was arrested on May 23, 2012, and convicted by a Vatican tribunal on October 6.  He has been serving an 18-month sentence in the Vatican Gendarme police barracks.

According to Fr. Federico Lombardi, S.J., director of the Holy See Press Office,

“This morning the Holy Father Benedict XVI visited Paolo Gabriele in prison in order to confirm his forgiveness and to inform him personally of his acceptance of Mr Gabriele’s request for pardon, thereby remitting the sentence passed against the latter. This constitutes a paternal gesture towards a person with whom the Pope shared a relationship of daily familiarity for many years.

Mr Gabriele was subsequently released from prison and has returned home. Since he cannot resume his previous occupation or continue to live in Vatican City, the Holy See, trusting in his sincere repentance, wishes to offer him the possibility of returning to a serene family life”.

Pope Benedict visited the imprisoned Gabriele to personally tell him that he is forgiven.

I am reminded of this scene from the papacy of Blessed Pope John Paul II, when he visited Ali Agca in his cell in Rome’s Rebibbia prison in December 1983.  Agca is serving a life sentence for his attempted assassination of Pope John Paul II on May 13, 1981 as the pontiff rode in the popemobile in St. Peter’s Square.  The Holy Father spent twenty minutes with his attacker, speaking quietly; on several occasions during the visit, it is reported, Agca laughed.




And I am reminded of this scene:  a priest, hearing the confession of a penitent and telling her that she is forgiven.








And I am reminded of this scene:  Jesus, pardoning and forgiving the sinner.