“My transfer right now,” he wrote, “would provoke much disorientation and discouragement in those who have believed it was possible to clean up so many situations of corruption and abuse of power that have been rooted in the management of so many departments.”
In another, he described more “situations of corruption” in which the same firms habitually won contracts at almost “double the cost” charged outside the Vatican. Viganò cited savings from cutting the amount spent on the annual Nativity scene in St. Peter’s Square from 550,000 euros in 2009 to 300,000 euros in 2010.
Viganò’s efforts failed, and he was soon dispatched to Washington. Bertone and Viganò declined to comment.
“In other circumstances, such an appointment would be a reason for joy and a sign of great esteem and trust in my regard, but in the present context, it will be perceived by all as a verdict of condemnation of my work, and therefore as a punishment,” Viganò wrote to the pope on July 7, 2011. He suggested that “the Holy Father has certainly been kept in the dark.”
The butler agreed and sought an unorthodox way to get the pope’s attention. Through intermediaries, Gabriele reached out to Gianluigi Nuzzi, an Italian investigative reporter. In clandestine coffee bar meetings, anonymous associates of Gabriele vetted Nuzzi, the journalist later wrote, and drove him around in circles to shake loose potential followers. When Nuzzi jumped through sufficient hoops, he met Gabriele in an empty apartment near the Vatican furnished with only a plastic chair. The two established secret Thursday meetings, and Gabriele left letters in drop boxes; Nuzzi sewed a computer thumb drive into his necktie. One day, the butler showed up to the rendezvous empty-handed, only to reveal 13 pages of documents taped to his back, under his jacket. Nuzzi, who referred to his secret source as “Maria,” used the material to write “His Holiness: The Secret Papers of Pope Benedict XVI,” a blockbuster book published last year.
As the media hunted for moles, or “crows” as they are known in Italian, Gabriele’s office mate, Monsignor Georg Gaenswein — a former ski instructor and papal confidant known as Gorgeous George — cracked the case. Vatican gendarmes found 82 boxes of documents in the butler’s apartment and arrested him. He was tried, convicted and jailed for several months before the pope personally pardoned him.