Butler stole papers pope wanted destroyed: police

VATICAN CITY Wed Oct 3, 2012 9:47am EDT

1 of 3. 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 stole highly sensitive papers the pontiff had marked "to be destroyed" and compromised Vatican security through his actions, the Holy See's police told his trial on Wednesday.

On the third day of Paolo Gabriele's trial, testimony depicted a man fascinated by the occult, Masonic lodges, secret services and past Italian and Vatican scandals.

"You can understand our unease when we saw these documents. This was a total violation of the privacy of the papal family," said police agent Stefano De Santis, one of the four agents who said they found the papers in Gabriele's home, using a Vatican term for the pope's closest aides.

Gabriele's leak to an Italian journalist of sensitive documents, some of them alleging corruption in the Vatican, caused one of the biggest crises of Pope Benedict's papacy.

It threw an unflattering spotlight on the inner workings of a city-state eager to shake off a series of scandals involving sexual abuse of minors by clerics around the world and mismanagement at its bank.

Gabriele, a trusted servant who served the pope meals, helped him dress and rode in the popemobile, has admitted passing papers to the journalist at secret meetings, but told the court at a previous hearing he did not see this as a crime.

The former butler sat impassively and occasionally smiled during Wednesday's 75-minute session as Vatican policemen told the court how they searched his apartment in the Vatican on May 23, the night of his arrest, and what they found.

The mass of incriminating documents, most of which were hidden in huge piles of papers stashed in a large wardrobe, included personal letters between the pope, cardinals and politicians on a variety of subjects.

Some papers, De Santis said, bore the pope's handwriting and had been marked "to be destroyed" by the pontiff in German. He did not say what those papers concerned.

Some of the documents were copies of encrypted documents. "One photocopy was enough to threaten the operations of the Holy See," De Santis told the court, without elaborating.

The agents said they found a mass of documents and books filled with newspaper clippings on the occult, secret services, Masonic lodges, yoga, political scandals in Italy, scandals involving the Vatican bank and other subjects.


Defense lawyer Cristiana Arru sought to turn the spotlight on police methods during the search, drawing out several agents to say that they had not used gloves when they handled the documents, and a gold nugget and a cheque for 100,000 euros made out to the pope which were also found.

Police said Gabriele, once one of fewer than 10 people who had the key to an elevator leading to the private papal apartment, had printed instructions on how to hide files in computers and how to use cellphones secretly.

Bishop Francesco Cavina, who knew Gabriele in the Vatican, told Italian newspaper La Repubblica on Wednesday that the butler, a father-of-three, may have a "disturbed mind" and "a split personality".

Two of the four policemen who testified on Wednesday also rejected Gabriele's accusations, made on Tuesday, that he was mistreated for several weeks after his arrest.

Gabriele told the court's previous hearing that for up to 20 days he was held in a room so small he could not stretch out his arms and that the light was left on 24 hours a day, causing him eye damage.

A Vatican judge ordered an investigation into the allegations.

De Santis said the search turned up "many more" papers than appeared in a book by Italian journalist Gianluigi Nuzzi, who wrote a muckraking expose early in 2012.

The letters to the pope included one in which a senior Vatican functionary expressed concern about corruption in the Holy See's business dealings with Italian companies.

The letter-writer, Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, was posted to Washington after raising the issue, despite begging to be allowed to stay at the papal state.

The trial adjourned until Saturday, when a verdict is expected.

(Reporting By Philip Pullella and Naomi O'Leary; Editing by Andrew Heavens)

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Comments (11)
RabidRighty wrote:
The Vatican should be burned to the ground. These cult freaks should be publicly flogged and all the wealth they are hoarding be put to something Jesus would actually be proud of.

Matthew 23-24:

23 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.
24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”

Oct 03, 2012 8:24am EDT  --  Report as abuse
scrumble wrote:
One has to wonder what sort of Vatican “operations” require encryption and secrecy.

Oct 03, 2012 9:05am EDT  --  Report as abuse
paintcan wrote:
@rabidrightly – Are you really sure you want “the kingdom of heaven” on bread and water in monks weeds and carrying begging bowls?

What do you make of the story of Christ in the House of Simon? Why turn water into wine when the party was probably as drunk as skunks and should have been observing “safe camel driver rules” anyway?

It’s a made up username if there ever was one – “rapidrightly”?
Mine is an object on my desk – it could have been “ashtray” or “coffee cup”. I run out of usernames and I can’t remember the passwords. I’d use my real name but there are actually a lot of them in the phone book for this state alone.

The Vatican should not be trying this man. Except that he might loose the option of pardoning him in another court?

Was the Pope trying to meet European transparency requirements because he wants to create Roman Catholicism Inc. and offer stock options?

BTW – What’s worse: being interested in the occult and the Masons or actually joining them? What is the prosecutions point? I did a little roaming around about this story and Reuters hasn’t mentioned a gold nugget claimed to be seized in Gabriellli’s apartment that was not admitted as evidence because it was not properly handled and had too many fingerprints. It also didn’t mention the secret taping done of his apartment and also not admitted as evidence. Those two are proper procedure as far as I know. It also threw out the Vatican’s own investigation. Was there a court order that authorized the seizing of 80 plus cartons of papers from his apartment?

The last Pope I really like was John XXIII. But I was 10 years old and didn’t know much about life at all. It was a brave move to have the Proper of the Mass” in English and not have to have a missile that showed the Latin and the English translation. It was very possible for Catholics to go to mass and not have a clue what the mass said but only to hear the sermons and, I think, the the Gospels and Epistle readings in English. But I’m not sure we could hear the Gospels or Epistles in English either, because that was about over 45 year ago.

I haven’t been a practicing Catholic in over 30 years but I still puzzle over a plaque I saw in St. Peters back in 1969 that listed all the Popes until that time. It has crosses by almost every name up to the time Constantine made Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire. Only a few names had crosses after that. I still don’t know what to make of that except the Church was more discriminating about who was considered a saint than the Roman Senate ever was after Augustus – the first Emperor to be considered “Theos”.

Pontifex Maximus was one of Augustus’ and his successors titles. Even Edward Gibbon considered the papacy a continuation of the line of Roman Emperors. After Augustus, they were all made “saints” as part of the boilerplate of Senate approval (with maybe the exception of Tiberius, Caligula, Nero, Commodus, Ellagabalus, Miximinus. Or they got the Title and it was later removed. The College of Cardinals was the continuation of the Senate. But he considered that it ended with the Reformation. I’m not at all scandalized by that fact. Protestants can have their bastards too.

I find it a lot easier to understand why many think John XXIII should be canonized but I can’t understand why many want Pius XII to be canonized?

I tend to think John Paul I was murdered and walked out of the Catholic Church since then but for more personal reasons. I think people tend to underplay the role of biology in what roles were suitable for men or women. But I don’t think biology makes that much of a difference in human affairs now that the need for strength and aggression is not as important as it used to be. I think every part of social life and every government on earth uses massive amounts of propaganda and they can always change their minds.

It’s a blessing that one doesn’t have to live forever.

Oct 03, 2012 10:26am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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