(Pilgrims and priests at the Vatican, 29 May 2012/Tom Heneghan)

Catholic clerics and pilgrims visiting St Peter’s basilica on Tuesday expressed shock over a scandal that has shaken the Vatican and led to the arrest of the pope’s butler, fearing it would hurt both the pontiff and the Church.

“It’s awful and very sad that something like that can happen right at the heart of the Vatican,” said David Kaberia, a priest from Meru in Kenya, standing under the sun in a queue snaking through half of St Peter’s Square to tour one of the holiest sites of Roman Catholicism.

“This is an inside job by greedy people and I think it will inevitably affect the Church worldwide because this is the centre of the Church’s power,” he told Reuters.

The scandal exploded last week when, within a few days, the head of the Vatican’s own bank was sacked, the pope’s butler was arrested over leaks of sensitive documents and a book was published alleging conspiracies among cardinals and corruption in the Church’s financial dealings with Italian business.

“This is a warning for all of us in the Chuch community, that we should only look after spiritual things and not be corrupted by matters of money, career and power,” said Father Francesco, a priest frorm Florence.