Entries in Paolo Gabriele (5)


Pope Pardons Former Butler

Franco Origlia/Getty Images(VATICAN CITY) -- Pope Benedict has pardoned his former butler, who was convicted of stealing and leaking sensitive Vatican documents.

After meeting for around 15 minutes with his former butler in his cell, Pope Benedict decided to grant Paolo Gabriele a full pardon. He had been convicted by a Vatican court of stealing the pontiff's private papers and leaking them to a journalist. It was seen as one of the gravest Vatican security breaches in recent times.

The Vatican won't be re-hiring Gabriele, who had worked closely with the pope for six years.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Pope's Butler Told Court He Leaked Private Documents for the Good of the Church

L'Osservatore Romano Vatican Pool via Getty Images(VATICAN CITY) -- Pope Benedict's former butler took the stand at his own trial Tuesday to say that while he admits he took thousands of documents from the pope's private apartments and leaked them to the media, he is not guilty of theft because he was doing it for the good of the church, "to bring the church back on the right track."

"I declare myself innocent concerning the charge of aggravated theft," former butler Paolo Gabriele told the court. "I feel guilty of having betrayed the trust of the Holy Father, whom I love as a son would."

Intrigue, corruption and back-stabbing are not new at The Vatican; what is new is that Gabriele's indiscretions have opened the doors on Vatican dirty deeds in a way that has never happened before.

Gabriele, 46, worked in Pope Benedict XVI's private apartments overlooking St. Peter's Square. He brought the pope his breakfast, helped him dress and was constantly at his side. No layman was closer to the pope.

Only eight accredited Vatican journalists are allowed to observe the court proceedings, which are conducted only in Italian. They are chosen by lottery.

One of them, veteran Vatican reporter Paddy Agnew of the Irish Times, told ABC News that Gabriele was calm and dignified.

For Agnew there were two critical points that surfaced:

"He points out that -- as the butler -- he is the closest lay person to him. And as example serving him at the table, he exchanges words and has a chat and he came to the conclusion that, from those exchanges that the Pope is not as informed as he should be, he does not know things that he should know ... about things in the world, in the Vatican, in the church," Agnew said. "We are not talking about football results, we are talking about serious matters of church affairs and state affairs."

"The other thing he -- he speaks of the degradation of the church, the degrade, or the dissatisfaction amongst people in the curia, he comes to the conclusion that a person of power, a person of huge decisional power is very open to manipulation," Agnew said. "He doesn't say that the pope is very open to manipulation, but one presumes that is who he is referring to."

It adds up to portrait of a pope who is not in control of his own church. Benedict, now age 85, is clearly frail. He returned just Monday from a three-month summer break at his hillside residence outside Rome.

Since he ascended to the papacy in 2005, Benedict has been criticized for being more interested in books than in the business of governing. What seems to have set off the butler is a growing sense of alienation around the pope's second-in-command, Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone, who is effectively the Vatican's prime minister. Bertone has the pope's trust and runs the day-to-day affairs at the Vatican on the pope's behalf.

The scandal, known as "Vatileaks," built this spring as more and more confidential papal documents began appearing in Italian newspapers. They exposed widespread corruption, cronyism and backdoor payments in return for favors.

It reached a crescendo in May when an Italian journalist published His Holiness: Pope Benedict XVI's Private Papers, a book that became an overnight bestseller here. It chronicled intrigue and scandal and included copies of private documents to prove it. Documents show that wealthy Catholics could gain an audience with the pope simply by donating 10,000 euros ($13,000). Many of the documents point to Bertone.

In court Tuesday the pope's private secretary Georg Gaenswein said it was only when he read the book that he realized that Gabriele had to be the source of the leaks, because some documents had clearly been taken from a desk that only Gaenswein and Gabriele had access to.

That led to an Agatha Christie-like moment in the pope's apartment when Gaenswein summoned all of the papal employees into a room and asked each one: "Did you steal the documents?" Everyone, including Gabriele, denied it.

Several days later, 82 cardboard boxes of evidence were removed from the Vatican apartment Gabriele shares with his wife and three children. Again Tuesday Gabriele insisted he was acting entirely on his own, but few Vatican observers believe that.

"I think the butler is too simple a person to do something on his own," papal biographer Marco Politi said. "If it happened, there are others helping him and maybe leading him."

Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said Gabriele did not have malicious intent.

"Paolo Gabriele has clearly admitted having committed the act, to having collected and brought these confidential documents out. He stated that he did not act for economic gain, but because of the personal unease he was living in and feeling around him," he said.

The trial is scheduled to continue Wednesday and again on Friday when it may conclude.

Vatican sources say if Gabriele is found guilty he is almost certain to be pardoned by the pope.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Vatileaks Butler Pleads Not Guilty, Admits to Abusing Pope's Trust 

Franco Origlia/Getty Images(VATICAN CITY) – Pope Benedict XVI’s butler was in Vatican Court Tuesday, where he pleaded not guilty to aggravated theft charges.

According to the BBC, Paolo Gabriele, 46, admitted to abusing the Pope’s trust and photocopying documents from Benedict’s apartment, but maintained that he did not think his actions constituted a crime.

Gabriele also insisted he acted alone in releasing the trove of papal documents known as Vatileaks. The BBC’s Alan Johnston reported that Gabriele denied having accomplices, though he did admit to having contacts throughout the Vatican, which is filled with “widespread unease.”

The butler also complained about his treatment in jail, complaining that when he first arrived, his cell was so small he couldn’t hold out his arms, the BBC says, and lights were kept on at all hours of the day.  The Vatican claims that his detainment has been up to international standards.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Pope's Butler Stands Trial for Vatileaks

Franco Origlia/Getty Images(VATICAN CITY) -- The Vatileaks scandal continues as Pope Benedict’s personal butler stood trial Saturday for releasing sensitive church documents to the public.

Similar to Wikileaks, Vatileaks contains reams and reams of papers. But according to Italian journalist Marco Politi, the documents leaked by Paolo Gabriele, “always focused on matters of money and power.”

Because the butler has already confessed, Politi thinks the prosecution’s main goal will be to identify those who helped Gabriele release the documents. “Around [Gabriele] there is a group of dissidents," he says, "Who are uneasy about the way the government of the Holy See is working and especially about the leadership of Secretary of State Cardinal Bertone.”

The 77-year-old Bertone is Pope Benedict's long-time deputy and trusted confidant.

According to the Telegraph, Gabriele is also accused of stealing a collection of gifts intended for the Pope, such as gold, artifacts and a check made out to Benedict for 100,000 Euros. If convicted, Gabriele faces up to four years in prison. He will appear in court again on Tuesday.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Vatican Documents Leaked: Did Butler Paolo Gabriele Do It?

Photo by Carlos Alvarez/Getty Images(VATICAN CITY) -- He is always at the Pope Benedict XVI's side.

Butler Paolo Gabriele helps the pope dress in the morning and serves him his meals through the day.

But now the pope's loyal butler is under arrest, accused of betraying the man he serves by leaking embarrassing confidential Vatican documents to the Italian media.

The arrest has stunned the Vatican, a place familiar with intrigue, but not public betrayal by someone so close to Benedict.

"The fact that this came from somebody who was in the papal apartment and a member of the papal family is great cause for a crisis of consciousness," John Allen of U.S. National Catholic Reporter said.

The embattled pope is said to be deeply "saddened" by the arrest of one of his closest aides.

But many people remain skeptical about the accusations leveled at Gabriele. Few believe he would have had the sophistication to orchestrate a series of leaks that have consumed the Italian media since January.

Marco Politi, Vatican journalist and author of a Benedict biography called "Crisis in the Papacy," told ABC News he believes that if the accusations are true, Gabriele did not act alone.

"If it happened, there are others helping him and maybe leading him," he said.

Monday's newspapers in Rome say that Gabriele was just a messenger and that there is a network of Vatican insiders behind the leaks and that a so-far unnamed cardinal is orchestrating it all.

In a cloak and dagger twist right out of a Hollywood thriller, a "deep throat" who claims to be inside the Vatican network spoke anonymously and nervously to Rome's La Repubblica.

"Whoever is doing this is doing this to support the pope," the insider told La Repubblica, "because the aim of the network of conspirators is to bring to light the rot within the church in the last few years."

The insider said there are warring factions within the Vatican, as some are out to destroy powerful Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican secretary of state.

Bertone is the second-most powerful man in the Catholic Church, responsible for the Vatican but also for overseeing the church around the world. His critics say he is too weak to lead the church.

But the insider said others within the Vatican believe it is Benedict himself who is too weak and that he has allowed Bertone to accumulate power and that he is not qualified for such a demanding job.

The leaked documents began appearing in the Italian media in January.

They expose alleged corruption, mismanagement and deep internal divisions at the Vatican. One document detailing corruption was addressed to Pope Benedict personally.

Many of the leaked documents focus on money laundering and kickbacks at the secretive Vatican bank.

The head of the bank, Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, was appointed by the pope to clean up the bank and he reported directly to him.

But in yet another blow to the pope's influence, his friend was fired Thursday.

The insider told La Repubblica that when Benedict XVI heard the news, "he started to cry 'for my friend Ettore.'"

The now-disgraced butler began his life at the Vatican as a cleaner.

He rose to the rank assistant butler under Pope John Paul II and has been at Benedict XVI's side since 2006.

Gabriele lives with his wife and three children inside the Vatican walls in an apartment where the secret documents were allegedly found. So far he has only been accused of theft.

Because there is no prison inside the Vatican walls, Gabriele is being held in a room inside the tiny Vatican police station.

He faces trial in a closed Vatican court and if convicted he could go to jail for up to 30 years.

Under a treaty between the Vatican and the Italian government, anyone convicted of crimes by the Vatican serves his sentence in an Italian prison.

Conspiracy and intrigue are nothing new to the Vatican, but traditionally the Vatican has been adept at keeping it inside the walls of the city-state.

Pope Benedict XVI's seven-year papacy has been consumed by public scandal.

Sexual abuse revelations by priests around the world continue to discredit the church.

In 2006, shortly after becoming pope, Benedict quoted text that inflamed Muslims around the world. He was forced to apologize.

The pope faced demonstrators Sunday accusing the Vatican of covering up evidence in the mysterious 1983 disappearance of the young daughter of a Vatican employee once thought to be buried in the tomb of a mafia don.

Asked whether all this means the pope has had a bad week, Vatican reporter Marco Politi said, "he's had a bad seven years."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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