Vatican butler alleges harsh conditions after arrest

VATICAN CITY Tue Oct 2, 2012 1:18pm EDT

Pope Benedict's former butler Paolo Gabriele (R), accused of stealing and leaking the pontiff's personal papers, sits at the start of his trial at the Vatican September 29, 2012. REUTERS/Osservatore Romano

Pope Benedict's former butler Paolo Gabriele (R), accused of stealing and leaking the pontiff's personal papers, sits at the start of his trial at the Vatican September 29, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Osservatore Romano

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VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Pope Benedict's former butler, on trial for stealing papal documents, told a Vatican court on Tuesday that during the first weeks of his detention he was held in an isolation room so small he couldn't stretch out his arms and with light on constantly.

Paolo Gabriele said that during those weeks he had suffered damage to his eyesight and had felt under psychological pressure. On the first night in the room in the Vatican's police station, "even a pillow was denied me", he said.

A judge ordered an investigation of the police force after Gabriele, speaking confidently and smiling often, made the assertions on the second day of a trial that has embarrassed the Vatican.

The leaks have laid bare the inner-workings of the tiny city-state at a time when the Vatican has been eager to clean up its image after a series of scandals involving widespread sexual abuse of minors and mismanagement at its bank.

Gabriele, who is accused of passing to a journalist documents alleging corruption in the Vatican, pleaded not guilty to charges of aggravated theft.

But he said in his testimony, the first time he has spoken publicly since his arrest, that he considered himself "guilty of betraying the trust of the Holy Father, who I loved like a son (loves a father)".

Wearing a smart grey suit, he said he acted because he could see a wide gap between the way ordinary people perceived things in the Church and the way they were seen by "those at the pinnacle of power".

Gabriele has not denied stealing copies of documents and leaking them but told investigators he did so because he saw "evil and corruption everywhere in the in the Church" and wanted to help the pope.

Asked by his lawyer Cristiana Arru if it was true that for the first weeks after his arrest on May 23 he was held in a room so narrow he could not stretch out his arms, he said: "Yes."

In answer to a question by the judge, Gabriele said:

"For the first 15-20 days the light was on 24 hours a day and there was no switch. As a result my eyesight was damaged."

He said he was subjected to what he and his lawyer called psychological pressure.


After hearing the accusations of abuse, the president of the three-judge panel, Giuseppe Dalla Torre, told Vatican prosecutor Nicola Picardi to open an investigation into the allegations.

Domenico Giani, the head of the Vatican police, issued a statement saying the room conformed to "standards used by other countries in similar situations".

It said the light had been kept on for general security reason, to keep Gabriele from harming himself and that the prisoner had been given an eye mask. He denied that Gabriele had not been given a pillow and said Gabriele was later moved to a larger room in the Vatican police station.

Monsignor Georg Ganswein, Benedict's private priest-secretary, appeared uncomfortable during his testimony as he answered questions about the daily routines of the papal household and recounted how he confronted Gabriele about the leaks.

Gabriele, who appeared calm during the course of the three-hour session, stood up in a spontaneous sign of respect when Ganswein, his former boss, walked in.

Ganswein, like the other witnesses, put his right hand on a book of the gospels and swore to tell the truth.

Gabriele earlier had suggested that important information had been withheld from the pope but did not say who had done so.

"At times the pope asked questions about things he should have been informed about," Gabriele said, adding: "I became convinced that it is easy to manipulate a person who has enormous decisions-making power in his hands."

He said he went to his "confessor" when he realized he was doing something wrong but did not stop and that he was never was offered money for the leaked documents.

The papers Gabriele admits he photocopied and passed on at secret meetings included letters to the pope in which a senior Vatican functionary expressed concern about improper behavior in the Holy See's business dealings.

The letter-writer, Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, was later posted to Washington despite pleading to be allowed to remain at the papal state.

Gabriele said he did not have any direct accomplices but was influenced by others and by a widespread malaise in the Vatican.

Vatican policemen testified how they seized so much material from the Vatican apartment where Gabriele lived with his wife and three children and from his quarters at the pope's summer residence that they filled 82 boxes.

The trial was adjourned until Wednesday morning.

(Editing by Michael Roddy)

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Comments (3)
Fbear0143 wrote:
Why would an organization claiming to represent God on earth be involvdd in torture or any other activity connected with corruption and theft and power plays. The Vatican is all about power and control and if there is, indeed a god, these men who claim to be His vicar on earth will have some serious accounting to do on the other side. Jesus told his apostles to call no one “father, but my father which is in Heaven.” Che palle these men have – from beginning to end!

Oct 02, 2012 11:02am EDT  --  Report as abuse
DeanMJackson wrote:
Fbear0143 asks, “Why would an organization claiming to represent God on earth be involvdd in torture or any other activity connected with corruption and theft and power plays.”

You assume that the Vatican is currently in the hands of Believers. I suppose you forgot that one of Communism’s main goals is the infiltration of all Christian denominations:

The “power struggle” going on within the Vatican is not what the media is telling you. The real “power struggle” has to do with Moscow’s infiltration of the Vatican by at least the Pontificate of John XXIII. This dating for the infiltration is good, since it coincides with the inexplicable refusal to release the Third Secret of Fatima by no later than 1960.*

Why would Communists worry about releasing what to them would be a silly superstition? The fact that the “silly superstition” mentioned the infiltration of the Catholic Church by what the document called “Satanic” forces would have been enough to keep the “inconvenient” document sealed. There was no way such a document was going to see the light of day, since its release would compel a closer examination of the Vatican by independent observers, possibly compromising Moscow’s recent usurpation of the Holy See.

However, thanks to the recent Vatican “power struggle” breaking into the open, Communists within the Holy See were forced to reveal their presence by the incredulous appointment of the Marxist-oriented, liberation theologist Bishop Gerhard Ludwig Müller to head up the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the purpose for the appointment to plug the damaging leaks from the Vatican. This is the man that the supposedly “conservative” Pope Benedict knows he can trust 100% to prevent any more embarrassing leaks from the Vatican…a Marxist-oriented, liberation theology enthusiast. Does this make sense to you?

This explains the Vatican’s inexplicable, and relatively new policy (fifty years old or so), of passing onto other parishes priests that sexually abuse children, ensuring (1) that the number of such sex crimes would increase geometrically; and (2) encourage pedophiles to join the seminaries. Now, such a policy could not be kept under wraps for long (as the Vatican well knew), since the massive number of crimes would have eventually reached a critical mass, exploding into the news headlines as they did. Only an INTENTIONAL Vatican policy of encouraging child sex crimes by priests explains the Vatican’s behavior these last fifty years. Believers in Christ wouldn’t subject children to sexual abuse, but Communists would in order to weaken the Catholic Church.

Those of you not familiar with the true events taking place within the “former” USSR these past 21 years will naturally ask, “Wouldn’t the Moscow network within the Vatican have fallen apart as soon as the collapse of the USSR took place in late 1991?”

For the answer to that question, first Google: “Bulgaria protestant communist agents” and “Bulgaria orthodox communist agents”.

Bulgaria is the only nation to have created (belatedly) a Files Commission looking into Communist-era agents still in power there. Guess what they found? Communist-era agents still in control of the government, media, Churches and other institutions (and the Files Commission is only chartered to investigate from 2003 onwards).

If Files Commissions had been created in all not-so-former East Bloc nations/USSR republics, then we’d get the same results as Bulgaria: That Communist agents are still in control there too.

What this means is that the “collapse” of the USSR in late 1991 was a strategic ruse, as predicted by KGB defector Major Anatoliy Golitsyn (Golitsyn actually correctly predicted that East Bloc nations/USSR would first “liberalize” before they “collapsed”) , the only Soviet-era defector to still be under protective custody in the West, proving (1) the collapses of the USSR/East Bloc were strategic ruses; and (2) that all other Soviet-era defectors who followed Golitsyn were still loyal to their respective Communist intelligence agencies, since all of them provided incorrect intelligence on the future of the USSR/East Bloc.

Beginning to get the wider picture now?

Now you know why the Russian electorate in 1992 failed to create a de-Communization program in order to ferret out Communist agents still in power. If the “collapse” of the USSR had been real, such a de-Communization program would have been immediately implemented.

The above also explains why the Russian electorate are only electing Soviet-era Communist Party members for President/Prime Minister. If the “collapse” of the USSR had been real, the Russian electorate would never have elected such Quislings back into power.
Forty years later in 2000, the Vatican released a four-page forgery, not the one-page, approximately 25-lined document that had been read by a select few before 2000.

Oct 02, 2012 11:07pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
paintcan wrote:
@DeanMJackson – What is your point? The Russians are not actually under the authority of the Pope. The Russian Orthodox Church is not Roman Catholic but split from it during the great schism in Christianity sometime around 800 AD. I’m not sure of the dates? The Russian Orthodox Church is actually under the authority of the Patriarchs of Constantinople (Istanbul) or else in one of the old cities of Russia but I don’t know much about them. You can find more accurate information on Wikipedia or just search the term “Russian Orthodox Church”.

They broke with the western branch because of issues of language – The west used Latin and the east used Greek. They east did not accept the claim of Rome as the headquarters of the Christian religion and did not accept the authority of the Papacy. They don’t accept the western claim that Christ gave Peter “the keys to the Kingdom”. It is a very similar controversy that affects the Islamic religion in terms of who was to be considered the legitimate successors to the founders. Islam has at least three claimants to the “throne”. Christianity itself is at least several dozen distinct religions and theologies.

If the former Soviet Union had an interest in the Papacy it was because of the countries of the former Austo-Hungraian Empire and Poland that were largely Catholic (the former Iron Curtain Countries). And they wouldn’t have had to “infiltrate” as you put it. They would have sent ambassadors and the Vatican would have sent Nuncio’s to discuss matters. Those were hardly “transparent” discussions so what would cloak and dagger intrigues have actually accomplished?

Whatever their influence was on the Vatican – it evidently didn’t stop Poland from engaging in Solidarnoz, or the election of John Paul II, Reagan’s presidency and Gorbachev’s appointment as Party Secretary, or the break up of the former Soviet Union. It doesn’t sound like the “infiltrators” got what they may have wanted?

The world is a lot more boring than you seem to think.

Oct 03, 2012 11:58am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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