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Pope pardons former butler who leaked Vatican documents

Pope Benedict has pardoned his former butler Paolo Gabriele, the Vatican said on Saturday.

Gabriele, 46, was serving a jail sentence for stealing sensitive papal documents and leaking them to the media, dubbed the “Vatileaks” case.

The pontiff visited Gabriele in Vatican jail to tell him personally that he had been pardoned, the Vatican said, adding that the former butler is now free.

Gabriele was arrested May 23 when Vatican police found the documents in his apartment. He was sentenced to serve 18 months in prison.

“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,” Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi said.

“This constitutes a paternal gesture towards a person with whom the Pope shared a relationship of daily familiarity for many years.”

Church officials will help Gabriele find a job outside the Vatican and start a new life with his family.

The pope has also pardoned a second Vatican employee who was convicted of aiding and abetting.