Pope Pardons Ex-Butler Paolo Gabriele had been serving time for stealing papal documents By Newser Editors and Wire Services Posted Dec 22, 2012 6:37 AM CST 8 comments Comments In this photo released by the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano, the pope visits with former butler Paolo Gabriele at the Vatican Saturday. (AP Photo/L'Osservatore Romano) (Newser) – Pope Benedict XVI has granted a Christmas pardon to his former butler, who stole the pope's private papers and leaked them to a journalist in one of the gravest Vatican security breaches in recent times. The Vatican said Benedict visited Paolo Gabriele in the Vatican police barracks this morning, and Gabriele was subsequently freed. Gabriele was arrested May 23 after Vatican police found heaps of papal documents in his Vatican City apartment. He was convicted of aggravated theft by a Vatican tribunal in October and had been serving his 18-month sentence in the Vatican police barracks. Gabriele told investigators he gave the documents to a journalist because he thought that exposing the "evil and corruption" in the Vatican would put the church back on the right track.