Pope Benedict's butler was arrested on Friday in connection with an investigation into leaks of confidential documents, some alleging cronyism and corruption in Vatican contracts, a senior Vatican source said.
The arrest is the first break in an investigation of the so-called "Vatileaks" scandal involving the leaking of secret papers including papal letters.
"The inquiry carried out by Vatican police... allowed them to identify someone in possession of confidential documents," Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi told journalists, according to BBC News. "This person is currently being questioned."
"It's all very sad," a Vatican source said.
For much of this year, the Vatican has been at the center of a scandal involving the leak to Italian media of documents, some of them personal letters to the pope.
Some of the documents involved allegations of corruption, mismanagement and cronyism in the awarding of contracts for work in the Vatican and internal disagreement on the management of the Vatican's bank.
The president of the Vatican's bank, Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, was ousted by its board on Thursday.
Pope shocked, saddened
The pope, who was said to be shocked and saddened by the leaks, ordered several investigations, including one headed by Vatican police and another by a commission of cardinals.
The scandal involves the leaking of a string of sensitive documents to Italian media since the start of the year.
They included letters by an archbishop who was transferred to Washington after he blew the whistle on what he saw as a web of corruption and cronyism, a memo which put a number of cardinals in a bad light, and documents alleging internal conflicts regarding the Vatican Bank.
The private letters to Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone and the pope from Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, the former deputy governor of Vatican City and currently the Holy See's ambassador in Washington were broadcast in January by an Italian television.
The letters showed that Vigano was transferred after he exposed what he argued was a web of corruption, nepotism and cronyism linked to the awarding of contracts to Italian contractors at inflated prices.
In one letter, Vigano wrote of a smear campaign against him by other Vatican officials who were upset that he had taken drastic steps to clean up the purchasing procedures. He begged to stay in the job to finish what he had started.
Bertone responded by removing Vigano from his position three years before the end of his tenure and sending him to the United States, despite his strong resistance.
Reuters contributed to this report.
More world news from msnbc.com and NBC News:
- In Egypt's election, politics is a new family affair
- Aid workers targeted amid new Pakistan crisis
- From danger zone to organic farm: Israel targets mine fields
- Euro crisis turns Spanish suburbs into ghost towns
- Jubilee treat: Canadian Mounties guard UK's queen
- Africa's Rainbow Nation troubled by racist time warp
- 'Nearly empty': A rare glimpse inside Syria rebel stronghold
- Terror suspect's eye color? UK's flying cameras know
- Analysis: How Egypt's election can transform the Middle East
Follow us on Twitter: @msnbc_world