Pope Benedict XVI has become the first Pope to be recorded during a corruption investigation by Italian police, it emerged yesterday.
The leader of the world's two billion Roman Catholics was unwittingly recorded by officers who were listening in on a suspect's mobile phone conversations.
The Pontiff made four telephone calls to Italy's civil protection chief Guido Bertolaso following last year's devastating earthquake in the centre of the country which left 300 people dead.
Bertolaso is at the centre of a corruption probe involving sexual favours and back handers for reconstruction projects in the L'Aquila region which was hit by the earthquake 14 months ago.
Pope Benedict is not suspected of any wrong doing - although Vatican officials are said to be furious that he was secretly taped - while it has also emerged that US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was also recorded speaking to Bertolaso.
Both had called Bertolaso to offer support and thanks for the efforts of his civil protection team who were providing rapid reaction relief in the devastated area.
Officers monitoring Bertolaso's mobile telephone were stunned when they heard the Pope's private secretary Georg Ganswein call and say: 'Hello. I have His Holiness the Pope on the line for you.'
The details of Pope Benedict's intercepted calls emerged in several Italian newspapers today/yesterday but the content was not reported although it is believed to have been fairly mundane and complimentary. . . . (continue reading)