What happens when you mix together the crazy plot twists of Dan Brown, the conspicuous nature of Julian Assange and a right-hand serviceman as powerful as Alfred was to Bruce Wayne?
You have what the Times has called "perhaps the greatest breach in centuries in the wall of secrecy that surrounds the Vatican." Or, as the Italians like to call it, VatiLeaks (don't confuse this with WikiLeaks or a nasal flu medication).
Here's what's going down:
At the beginning of the week, journalist Gianluigi Nuzzi published a book called Your Holiness: The Secret Papers of Benedict XVI.The story was a ticking time-bomb for the smallest country in the world's credibility, accusing, by name, leaders of the Church who were involved in power struggles deep within the hierarchy.
This is like the Watergate of Italy; picture Nuzzi as both Woodward and Bernstein combined.
In order to obtain the information, Nuzzi said he spoke to a whistleblower outside the Vatican's walls who knew more about the inside than anyone else; someone who was with the Pope on a regular basis. And it looks like the Vatican has discovered the one person who could be responsible for this information crisis: the Pope's butler (I guess that makes him Deep Throat?).
Yesterday, Paolo Gabriele was arrested on charges of illegally possessing confidential documents. He has been the Pope's butler since '06 and spends most of his days next to his boss's side, making sure His Holiness is taken care of. So, naturally he would have a cache of confidential documents - personal letters by the Pope, writings about the cardinals and the EU, etc. - in his family's apartment, just waiting to be found by the authorities.
(The Guardian, we guess after their experience with CableGate, did a fantastic job of summarizing everything in the documents. Trust us; there is a lot here to skim through).
The search began as the book sparked a domino effect of problems across the Vatican. Soon after its publication, the head of the Vatican Bank, Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, stepped down from his position due to the book's leaked information regarding his mismanagement of the Bank.
But, even before all this, an investigative force was started by a top cardinal, along with the Vatican police, to hunt down the person responsible for the leaks for the book's impending publication and Gabriele seems to be their man. Now, a widespread investigation is taking place to find out if Gabriele was alone in this leakage scandal. In other words, this could get ugly.
Like any good leaked scandal, the domino effect's next target is unpredictable, making the story that much more interesting. The Vatican, strung out from child abuse scandals and declining attendance rates, is now hit with yet another scandal that could shed light on issues the media had never even heard of until now. As the Associated Press writes, this story has a "Hollywood twist" to it with deep political, social and economic implications. It's the center of Christendom, for God's sake.
Someone call up M. Night Shyamalan. This is going to be a big one.