Paolo Gabriele, the papal butler who fell from grace

VATICAN CITY Fri Sep 28, 2012 4:58am EDT

The Pope's butler, Paolo Gabriele (bottom L) arrives with Pope Benedict XVI (R) at St. Peter's Square in Vatican, in this file photo taken May 23, 2012. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi/Files

The Pope's butler, Paolo Gabriele (bottom L) arrives with Pope Benedict XVI (R) at St. Peter's Square in Vatican, in this file photo taken May 23, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Alessandro Bianchi/Files

Related Topics

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - By day, Paolo Gabriele was a member of the Vatican's innermost circle, the "papal family", possessing a key held by fewer than 10 people to an elevator leading from a small Vatican courtyard directly into Pope Benedict's apartments.

By night, he was a different man, obsessed with helping root out what he saw as corruption in the Roman Catholic Church.

The pious butler who helped Pope Benedict dress and served him his meals now finds himself on trial for aggravated theft, accused of stealing documents in what could prove to be the most sensational Vatican trial in decades.

Gabriele, 46, a reserved family man and devout Catholic, told investigators he acted for the good of the Church.

While tending to the man Catholics believe is Christ's vicar on earth, the clean-cut, black-haired butler said he saw "evil and corruption everywhere in the Church", and began leaking the papers that would cause one of the biggest crisis of Pope Benedict's papacy.

The documents, which Gabriele admits he photocopied and passed to an Italian journalist, contained allegations of corruption in the Vatican's business dealings.

His trial, which could bring a sentence of up to four years in jail, starts in the Vatican's small tribunal on Saturday.

Gabriele told a pre-trial inquiry that he never received payment for the papers, which included personal letters to the pope, but felt he was acting for the good of the Church and as an "agent" of the Holy Spirit.

"I was sure that a shock, perhaps by using the media, could be a healthy thing to bring the Church back on the right track," he said in pre-trial testimony, explaining how he felt the pope was not sufficiently informed of problems the letters outlined.

The butler, who told investigators he was in a state of confusion and disorder in the months leading to his arrest, seems to have been thrown into a crisis of conscience by insights into the inner workings of the Vatican that he encountered.

Acquaintances interviewed by investigators described a devout Catholic and a good father who lived in a comfortable apartment in the Vatican with his wife and three children.

To fathom the apparent gulf between Gabriele's acts and his appearance as a reserved and obedient servant of the pope, the Vatican summoned psychologists to determine if he could be held responsible for his actions.

The results were conflicting. One report cited in the indictment concluded that Gabriele showed no signs of major psychological disorder or of being dangerous.

But another concluded the opposite: that while he could be held accountable for his actions, he was socially dangerous, easily influenced and could "commit acts that could endanger himself or others".

The latter described Gabriele as subject to ideas of "grandiosity", as attention-seeking, and as a simple man with a "fragile personality with paranoid tendencies covering profound personal insecurity".

He turned to more than one person to share his anguish. He confided in a man he called his "Spiritual Father", referred to only as "B" in the indictment, and passed copies of incriminating papers to him as well as to the journalist.

"B" told investigators he destroyed the documents because he knew they had been obtained illegally.

The trial may shed more light on the strange case of Paolo Gabriele, the man who started out as a humble cleaner in the Vatican, slowly rose to become an aide to one of the most revered spiritual leaders, and then quickly fell from grace.

(Reporting By Naomi O'Leary; editing by Philip Pullella, Will Waterman and Mark Heinrich)

FILED UNDER:
We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/
Comments (1)
DeanMJackson wrote:
The Vatican was fatally infiltrated by Moscow at least by the late 1950s.

That is why the one-page Third Secret of Fatima was refused its release by 1960 (because the real document mentioned infiltration of the Catholic Church by “Satanic forces”, read: “Communist forces”), and why the Vatican had to release an obvious four-page forgery in 2000.

This also explains the inexplicable, relatively new policy of passing onto other parishes priests who molest children, ensuring (1) that the number of such crimes would increase geometrically; and (2) encourage pedophiles to join the seminaries. The Vatican well knew that it was only a matter of time before such massive numbers of crimes against children would reach a critical mass and breakout into the open, thereby weakening the Catholic Church.

So who’s in power in the Vatican?

The current “power struggle” within the Vatican is a war being fought between Communists and believers, and in order to secure that no more embarrassing information about the Vatican be leaked, this “power struggle” necessitated that the Communists within the Vatican show their hand by “Pope” Benedict being forced to appoint the Marxist-oriented, liberation theologist Bishop Gerhard Ludwig Müller to head the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (Google this news story; the oddity of the appointment was never noticed by the media though). It is this Marxist-oriented, liberation theologist that the Vatican trusted 100% to keep its dirty secrets! Get it?

In fact, all Christian churches behind the not so former Iron Curtain are controlled by Communist agents to this day, as revealed by the only “post Communist” Files Commission in Bulgaria (Google: “Bulgaria protestant communist agents” and “Bulgaria orthodox communist agents”).

If “Files Commissions” had been created in all other “former” Iron Curtain nations, the same results would be found: Communist agents still control of Christian denominations, which means (as KGB Major Anatoliy Golitsyn warned the West), the collapse of the USSR was a strategic ruse.

By the way, the Bulgarian Files Commission is only chartered to investigate Communist-era agents still in power in the government, media and other institutions going back to 2003. The Commission is not investigating Communist-era agents in positions of power/influence before then.

Now you know why after the “collapse” of the USSR the “free” Russian electorate inexplicably refused to create a de-Communization program to ferret out Communist agents still in power, and why the Russian electorate inexplicably are only electing for President/Prime Minister Soviet-era Communist Party members.

What the above means is that all Bishops and Cardinals appointed as such by Pope John XXIII and onwards must be assumed to be Communist agents too.

Sep 28, 2012 5:41am EDT  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.