"If you wrote this in fiction, you wouldn't believe it," said Carl Anderson, a member of the board of the Vatican bank that contributed to the tumult with its no-confidence vote in its president, Ettore Gotti Tedeschi. "No editor would let you put it in a novel."
The bank, known as the Institute for Religious Works, issued a scathing denunciation of Gotti Tedeschi in a memorandum obtained Saturday by the Associated Press. In it the bank, or IOR by its Italian initials, explained its reasons for ousting Gotti Tedeschi: He routinely missed board meetings, failed to do his job, failed to defend the bank, polarized its personnel, and displayed "progressively erratic personal behavior."
Gotti Tedeschi was also accused by the board of leaking documents himself: The memorandum from the Institute for Religious Works, as the bank is known, said he "failed to provide any formal explanation for the dissemination of documents last known" to be in his possession.
In an interview, Anderson stressed that the latter accusation was independent of the broader "Vatileaks" scandal that has rocked the Vatican. But he stressed: "It is not an insignificant issue."
Gotti Tedeschi has not commented publicly about his ouster or the reasons behind it, saying he has too much admiration for the pope to do so. He also has not been arrested, avoiding the fate that befell Gabriele.
The 46-year-old father of three has been in Vatican detention since Wednesday after Vatican investigators discovered Holy See documents in his apartment. The Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said that Gabriele had met with his attorneys and that the investigation was taking its course through the Vatican's judicial system.
Gabriele, the pope's personal butler since 2006, has often been seen by Benedict's side in public, riding in the front seat of the pope's open-air jeep during Wednesday general audiences or shielding the pontiff from the rain. In private, he is a member of the small papal household that also includes the pontiff's private secretaries and four consecrated women who care for the papal apartment.
Lombardi said Gabriele's detention marked a sad development for all Vatican staff. "Everyone knows him in the Vatican, and there's certainly surprise and pain, and great affection for his beloved family," the spokesman said.
The "Vatileaks" scandal has seriously embarrassed the Vatican at a time when it is trying to show the world financial community that it has turned a page and shed its reputation as a scandal-plagued tax haven.
Vatican documents leaked to the media have undermined that effort, alleging corruption in Vatican finance as well as internal bickering over the Holy See's efforts to comply with international norms to fight money-laundering and terror financing.
The Vatican in July will learn if it has complied with the financial-transparency criteria of a Council of Europe committee, Moneyval - a key step in its efforts to get on the so-called white list of countries that share financial information to fight tax evasion.
Anderson acknowledged that the events of the last week have not cast the Holy See in the best light. And he said the bank's board realized that the ouster of its president just weeks before the expected Moneyval decision could give the committee pause.
"The board considered that concern and decided that, all things considered, it was best to take the action at this time," Anderson said. "These steps were taken to increase the IOR's position vis-a-vis Moneyval."
The Vatileaks scandal began in January when Italian journalist Gianluigi Nuzzi broadcast letters from the former No. 2 Vatican administrator to the pope in which he begged not to be transferred for having exposed alleged corruption that cost the Holy See millions of euros in higher contract prices. The prelate, Msgr. Carlo Maria Vigano, is now the Vatican's U.S. ambassador.
Nuzzi, author of Vatican SpA, a 2009 volume laying out shady dealings of the Vatican bank based on leaked documents, last weekend published His Holiness, which presented a trove of other documents including personal correspondence to the pope and his secretary - many of them painting Benedict's No. 2, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, in a negative light.
Nuzzi has said he was offered the documents by multiple Vatican sources and insisted he didn't pay a cent.
Bertone, 77, has been blamed for a series of gaffes and management problems that have plagued Benedict's papacy and, according to the leaked documents, generated a not inconsiderable amount of ill will directed at him from other Vatican officials.