Ex-papal butler convicted, sentenced to 18 months

VATICAN CITY Sat Oct 6, 2012 1:40pm EDT

1 of 10. Pope Benedict's former butler Paolo Gabriele (2nd R) listens to the court at the Vatican October 6, 2012. A Vatican court found Gabriele guilty of stealing sensitive documents and sentenced him to a year and a half in prison.

Credit: Reuters/Osservatore Romano

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VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - A Vatican court convicted Pope Benedict's former butler of stealing sensitive documents and sentenced him to 18 months detention on Saturday, at the end of one of the most sensational trials in the recent history of the Holy See.

A Vatican spokesman said the pope, who reigns as a supreme monarch in the world's smallest city state, would "most likely" pardon Paolo Gabriele.

Until such time, he will serve his sentence under house arrest in his Vatican apartment and not go to an Italian jail as is foreseen by bilateral agreements due to the Vatican's lack of any such facility, his lawyer Cristiana Arru told Reuters.

She said the house arrest provision had been approved by the Vatican's promoter of justice, or prosecutor, after the verdict.

Gabriele, wearing a grey suit, remained impassive as the court delivered its verdict after two hours of closed-door deliberations that followed closing arguments by the prosecution and defense.

Gabriele had admitted being the source of leaks of highly sensitive papers, including letters to the pope that alleged corruption in the Vatican's business dealings and defended his actions in a final appeal before the court retired.

"What I feel most strongly inside myself is the conviction that I acted exclusively out of love, I would say a visceral love, for the Church of Christ and its visible representative," he said in a flat voice that betrayed no emotion.

"If I have to repeat it, I am not a thief," he added dryly.

The prosecution had asked for a three-year sentence while the defense asked the court to reduce the charges from aggravated theft to misappropriation, and for him to be freed.

The head of the three-judge panel, wearing a black robe with gold tassels, read the verdict with the opening words: "In the name of Holiness Pope Benedict XVI, gloriously reigning, the court, having invoked the Holy Trinity, has reached the following sentence."

The court also ordered Gabriele to pay the cost of the trial out of his own pocket but a Vatican spokesman was unable to quantify it.


The judge said he had given Gabriele a lighter sentence than sought by the prosecution because he had no previous criminal record and because he had "acknowledged that he betrayed the trust of the Holy Father".

The court was told how Gabriele, who served the pope his meals and helped him dress, photocopied sensitive documents under the nose of his immediate superiors in a small office adjacent to the papal living quarters in the Apostolic Palace.

He then hid more than 1,000 copies and original documents, including some the pope had marked "to be destroyed," among many thousands of other papers and old newspaper clippings in a huge armoire in the family apartment inside the Vatican walls.

The prosecution tried to portray Gabriele as a simple-minded man with "illusions of grandeur" who was easily influenced by others but said there was no proof that he had accomplices.

Arru told Reuters in an interview she did not plan to appeal because she felt the sentence was "a just one".

"He is a serene man. He placed himself before justice and is ready to accept any of the consequences," she said after visiting the Gabriele family in their apartment in the Vatican.

"He put his life in the hands of divine providence first and human justice second. He is a man who has no fear," she said, adding that the Vatican prosecutor had agreed that Gabriele would be permitted to take walks in the Vatican gardens under escort and receive relatives.

The trial, which started last Saturday, threw open the window on a betrayal of trust and sensitive secrets in the Vatican.

A former member of the small, select group known as "the papal family", Gabriele was one of fewer than 10 people who had a key to an elevator leading directly to the pope's apartments.

He said during the trial that from his perch as papal butler he was able to see how easily a powerful man could be manipulated by aides and kept in the dark about things he should have known.

In the course of the trial, intimate details emerged of the inner workings of an institution long renowned for its secrecy.

The documents Gabriele leaked constituted one of the biggest crises of Pope Benedict's papacy when they emerged in a muckraking expose by an Italian journalist earlier this year.

The case has been an embarrassment for the Vatican, coming at a time when it was keen to rid itself from the taint left by a series of scandals involving sexual abuse of minors by clerics around the world and mismanagement at its bank.

Gabriele told investigators before the trial began that he leaked the documents because he saw "evil and corruption everywhere in the Church" and that information was being hidden from the pope.

Earlier this week Gabriele accused the Holy See's police of mistreating him while in custody. Members of the force in turn depicted the butler as a man obsessed with the occult, Masonic lodges and secret services.

(Editing by Jon Boyle and Jon Hemming)

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Comments (28)
DeanMJackson wrote:
Early last month the Pope’s butler, Paolo Gabriele, reported that more than 20 persons within the Vatican were involved in either stealing or leaking “sensitive” Papal documents, not two as reported by the Vatican. Last February, before being caught with incriminating Vatican documents in his apartment, Paolo Gabriele in a television interview (voice distorted, face hidden by shadows) “described the Vatican as a place where “you can commit a murder and then disappear into the void” – a reference to a murky scandal within the Swiss Guard in 1998, when a young soldier shot dead the corps’ commander and wife before apparently committing suicide.”

Paolo Gabriele claims there is a power struggle going on in the Vatican between liberals and conservatives who wanted to block reform, however the appointment of the Marxist-oriented, liberation theologist Bishop Gerhard Ludwig Muller to head the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in July, the appointment being a bid to prevent any more embarrassing leaks, belies this “liberal/conservative” explanation for the power struggle currently taking place within the Vatican.

So what is the real reason for the power struggle within the Vatican? Read on…

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.

This “power struggle” within the Vatican has finally outed the Communist faction that controls the Holy See, by necessitating the seemingly inexplicable appointment of Bishop Muller as someone the Vatican could trust 100% to put an end to any more leaks of embarrassing Vatican secrets. Unfortunately, the media (whether mainstream or alternative) doesn’t know how to analyze the news, thereby misinforming its readers/viewers.

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 06, 2012 10:47am EDT  --  Report as abuse
sjfella wrote:
The should jail the Pope for running the largest scam in the world.

Oct 06, 2012 10:51am EDT  --  Report as abuse
paintcan wrote:
The judges didn’t look like clergy. Who were they and where did they come from?

It isn’t at all clear that the Vatican is a place anyone can claim citizenship. If they aren’t citizens of the Vatican “State” how can they be judges? Hired help? Volunteers?

Even if he had been tried in an Italian court he would probably have been convicted. But The Vatican shouldn’t have tried him. Not today.

I used to donate to some Catholic Indian schools that looked like they were careful that the money went to where they said it was going (there are so many charities) and the one thing about celibacy is, it keeps the costs of staff to a minimum. But this decision doesn’t send the right messages. Protestant clergy has to maintain wife and kids. I don’t know why people have such a hard time excepting that Jesus was probably a single man. A married man has to worry about what happens to his offspring. Both Hindus and Buddhists have traditions of celibacy too. If one wants to look at the whole of life (transcendence) there are many traditions that believe that means leaving all personal concerns behind. States usually sent young unmarried men to war, they tend to think they have the least to loose.

Maybe the “Pope must Die(t)” after all? Protestant denominations and most religions have done without them, but they also splintered into dozens of confusing denominations.

If I had to pick a preacher and had the choice between a man or woman who was single or a human silver back gorilla with a harem, I’d go with the single guy. He’s a lot cheaper to keep alive and not as likely to be consumed with concerns for his own, his wife (or wives) and his children’s ambitions. I think Gregory the Great knew what he was doing and for the right reasons. If they were sent to areas as missionaries where it was likely they would be killed, the responsible thing for the superior would be to risk as few casualties as possible. Priests are expected to take “vows of obedience” and to go where they are sent. You can;t do that with a married man. Nuns and monks take the same vows. They make themselves voluntary slaves. Most of the comments I’ve seen don’t get to the point of Vatican accountability. Why should they accept voluntary servitude if the hierarchy is going to allow the less than spiritual to rob them of the fruits of their unpaid labors? Communist China under Mo ao seemed to have valued personal accountability more than the Vatican seems to.

Why on earth should anyone be interested in “the most beautiful photos of the Pope” as you can see on the cover of L’Osservatore Romano”, except that people can’t seem to get enough photos of “beautiful” People or Prince Harry’s buttocks or Kate’s breasts. Of course the alternate approach to the beautiful celebrities are the stories looking at the wreckage that exists under the makeup off-screen? I just saw a TV clip of a famous comedienne that made her look like she was embalmed. The woman’s in her 60’s and the surgeons should have allowed some evidence of that fact to peak through the mask. She should really start to undergo aging treatments so she and her grave don’t scare each other when they meet.

Oct 06, 2012 10:51am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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