VATICAN CITY — Pope Benedict XVI’s former butler on Thursday (Oct. 25) started serving his 18-month jail term for stealing the pontiff’s private papers and leaking them to the press.

The Vatican’s chief spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said Paolo Gabriele would be transferred on Thursday to the small detention facility inside the headquarters of the Vatican police. The cells have been recently refurbished, according to Lombardi.

Gabriele was sentenced on Oct. 6 to 18 months in jail after a weeklong trial. Neither his lawyer nor prosecutors appealed the sentence.

In a statement, the Vatican Secretariat of State said the former butler would also lose his job.

Gabriele can still appeal for a papal pardon, but that would require “a sincere request for forgiveness from the Holy Father and from all those who were unjustly offended,” as well as a recognition of the gravity of his crimes, according to the statement.

The Vatican statement stressed Gabriele’s actions had “personally hurt” the pope, harmed the Holy See, scandalized Catholics and “disrupted the serenity” of Vatican employees.

According to a 20-page indictment issued by a Vatican judge, the former butler told prosecutors that he started the leaks because he was convinced that “evil and corruption” were “everywhere” in the church, and that he acted as an “infiltrator” of the Holy Spirit.

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