By Anita Bourdin

Paolo Gabriele, Pope Benedict XVI’s former butler, has died at 54 after a long illness. He leaves his wife and three children, reported Vatican Radio.

“After many years of service to the Holy See and having been a member of the Papal Family, in 2012 he was the protagonist of the first Vatileaks, the disappearance of confidential documents published in a book,” pointed out Vatican Radio.

“He was declared guilty by the Court of Vatican City State and was given the pardon and grace of the Pope Emeritus on December 22 of that year. Later he served in the Bambino Gesu pediatric hospital in Rome, “ it explained.

Benedict forgave and pardoned his former butler Gabriele, who on October 6, 2012 was sentenced by an Ecclesiastical Court to a year and half of prison for stealing thousands of confidential documents, a case commonly known as Vatileaks. He asked for papal pardon for these deeds.

The Pope visited the accused on Saturday, December 22, in the Vatican’s gendarmerie, where his cell was. It was a symbolic gesture in the pre-Christmas period. The Holy Father wanted to “confirm” his “pardon” to Paolo Gabriele. He “personally” wanted to announce Gabriele’s release, saying that he accepted his request for pardon and annulled his sentence.

The Vatican described it as “a paternal gesture to a person with whom the Pope has been close daily for many years.” “Paolo Gabriele was then released and returned to his home in the Vatican,” added Vatican Radio.

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