Pope Benedict XVI said on Wednesday he is saddened by the scandal surrounding the Vatican, but added that the media's coverage of Vatileaks is exaggerated and gratuitous.
It is the first time Benedict, 85, spoke directly about the stolen documents leaked to the media, which revealed power struggles, possible corruption and favoritism in awarding contracts within the church.
He was speaking during a general audience in St. Peter's Square. Benedict lashed out against what he said is false coverage in the media and assured that his closest aides have his full trust.
Suggestions have multiplied, amplified by some media, which are totally gratuitous, and which have gone well beyond the facts, offering an image of the Holy See which does not correspond to reality, Benedict said, as reported by Reuters.
The Associated Press reported that the pope said the events of recent days about the Curia and my collaborators have brought sadness in my heart.
I want to renew my trust in and encouragement of my closest collaborators and all those who every day, with loyalty and a spirit of sacrifice and in silence, help me fulfill my ministry, Benedict said.
Paolo Gabriele, the 46-year-old butler to the pope since 2006, was arrested last week after investigators found him in possession of private church documents. Reports are that investigators are looking to see if Gabriele had any accomplices. Vatican bank boss Ettore Gotti Tedeschi was sacked as a result of the scandal.
Though the Italian media have been reporting that cardinals are suspected to be involved in the scandal, Vatican spokesman has denied those claims. Gabriele has also promised to help police with their investigation.
It is still unclear what the motives were behind the leak earlier this year. Personal letters to the pope were also among the documents stolen.