The pope met with his former butler today in order to pardon him for turning over embarrassing confidential Vatican papers to an Italian journalist. As official Church pardons go, it was "intense and personal," and was followed by the customary annual anti-gay Christmas address. But compared to other papal pardons, it barely merits notice:

Pope: Benedict XVI
Pardonee: Paolo Gabriele
Crime: Leaking private Vatican documents exposing "evil and corruption" to a journalist
Punishment: Imprisoned in Vatican jail for 18 months

Pope: Innocent III
Pardonee: John de Gray, Bishop of Norwich
Crime: being elected Archbishop of Canterbury over Stephen Langdon; allowing priests and deacons to marry
Punishment: Excommunication

Pope: Paul VI
Pardonee: Patriarch Michael Cerularius (d. 1059)
Crime: Refusing to meet with papal emissaries; addressing then-Pope Leo IX as "brother" and not "father
Punishment: Excommunication; Michael responded by excommunicating the pope in turn

Pope: Gregory VII
Pardonee: Boleslaw the Generous
Crime: Adultery
Punishment: Made to wander the earth as a silent beggar; performed manual labor as penance for a Benedictine monastery, according to legend

Pope: John Paul II
Pardonee: Mehmet Ali Ağca
Crime: Attempted murder
Punishment: Imprisoned in Italy for 19 years; deported to Turkey to serve another 10

What are your favorite historical papal pardons? Tell us in the comments.

[Image via AP]