(Reuters) Pope Benedict made a surprise pre-Christmas visit to the jail holding his former butler on Saturday and pardoned him for stealing and leaking documents that alleged corruption in the Vatican.

The pope and Paolo Gabriele spent about 15 minutes together before Gabriele was freed and allowed to return to his wife and children in their Vatican apartment, Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said.

“What they said to each other will remain a secret between them … he knows he made a mistake,” Gabriele’s lawyer Cristiana Arru, who was in the apartment when he returned home, told Reuters.

  • Text smaller
  • Text bigger
Note: Read our discussion guidelines before commenting.