Apparently, even the pious enclave of the head of the Roman Catholic Church is not immune to the vices of base human machinations, high-level intrigues, corruption and power struggles which have long been the bane of the secular world.
Nothing else better illuminates this assertion than the recent arrest of one Paolo Gabriele, the personal butler of Pope Benedict XVI, on charges that he leaked confidential information in papal and Vatican documents to Italian journalists and others, an activity that has both embarrassed and confounded important institutions of the Holy See over the last few months.
Gabriele is a 46-year-old father of three and a layman who had direct and unrestricted access to the Pope's living quarters in Vatican City. He had been employed as the Pontiff's personal butler since 2006. It was perhaps this vantage position he occupied in the Pope's personal life that enabled him to position himself at the centre of what has now come to be known as the "Vatileaks" scandal.
The scandal, which began in January this year, involved the surreptitious leaking of documents from inside sources that have seriously embarrassed the Vatican.
Specifically, in that month, Italian journalist Gianluigi Nuzzi published letters purportedly from the former No. 2 Vatican administrator to the Pope, Monsignor Carlo Maria Vigano, in which the latter allegedly pleaded with the Pope not to be transferred from that position for having earlier exposed alleged corruption that cost the Holy See millions of euros in higher contract prices. Monsignor Vigano is now the Vatican's ambassador to the United States.
Subsequently, the Italian journalist, Nuzzi, and others published other damning documents that have purported to reveal other acts of corruption within the Catholic establishment, as well as in-fighting within the Vatican over the Holy See's efforts to demonstrate more transparency in its financial operations.
While the "leaks" have thoroughly embarrassed the papal authorities, they also led to the recent firing of Gotti Tedeschi, the head of the Institute for Religious Works, the Vatican's main banking institution.
Whatever the ills of the secular world that are also in full view within the Vatican, courtesy of the leaked documents, the more enduring lesson here is the manner the head of the Roman Catholic Church responded to the crisis in his personal domain, so to speak.
Going by initial reports, the butler had been under extensive surveillance for sometime by security officials in the Vatican prior to his arrest; the Pontiff had, of course, been quite aware of the investigation prior to his butler's arrest but apparently did nothing to interfere with the process or subvert the course of justice.
This, even for a domestic staff of which the Pontiff was said to be very fond, and for whose wife and children he was said to have great affection.
Such is the lesson we recommend to all leaders in position of trust and authority the world over, especially in Nigeria.