St Peter's statue at Vatican Basilica
The Pope's butler, Paolo Gabriele, who is charged with stealing and leaking confidential correspondence, took to the dock on Tuesday, the second day of his trial, saying he was innocent of charges of aggravated theft, but guilty of betrayal. He told the court he loved the Pope like a son.
He went on to say he had made photocopies of the Pope’s private correspondence and leaked them to a journalist because he was concerned about what was happening in the Vatican.
Gabriele said no one had encouraged him to steal and leak the documents and he had not received any money or other rewards for doing this. Although Gabriele told the court he had acted on his own initiative, he said he had shared confidences about the general atmosphere in the Vatican with four people: retired Cardinal Paolo Sardi, a former official in the Vatican Secretariat of State, Cardinal Angelo Comastri, archpriest of St Peter’s Basilica, Ingrid Stampa, an assistant to Pope Benedict who worked him him for many years going back to his time as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, and Bishop Francesco Cavina of Carpi, who worked in the Secretariat of State until last year.
Gabriele said he never showed any of the documents to the Pope but he had tried to bring some concerns to the Holy Father’s attention.
Later Monsignor Georg Ganswein, the Pope’s personal secretary and Cristina Cernetti, one of the consecrated laywomen who work in the papal apartment gave their testimony. Msgr Ganswein said he only began suspecting Gabriele in mid-May after a journalist published documents which he knew had never left the office.
Gabriele’s lawyer asked him several questions about the 60 days he spent in Vatican detention. He said that he had been held in a tiny room and that for the first 15-20 days, the Vatican police left the lights on 24 hours a day.
Federico Lombardi, Director of the Holy See’s press office told reporters that Judge Nicola Picardi, the Vatican prosecutor, had opened an investigation into the conditions under which Gabriele was detained. Later in the day Vatican City State Gendarmes issued a statement confirming that the light had been left on for 24 hours a day but said this was done in order to prevent possible acts of self harm by the defendant and also for security reasons.
The statement said Gabriele had later requested that the light be left on during the night because it kept him company. The Vatican police said the other detention cell was undergoing renovation works at the time of Gabriele’s arrest and as soon as the building works were completed the defendant was moved into the new cell. They also stressed that the treatment of Gabriele while in detention followed international norms, including being allowed regular access to his family members and the chance to enjoy periods of relaxation and to socialise with the Vatican Gendarmes.
Source: VIS/Vatican Radio