Pope’s butler charged with VatiLeaks-Reuters

June 1, 2012

Pope’s Butler Is Formally Charged With Leaks

Reuters: May 26, 2012


Paolo Gabriele, left, butler to Pope Benedict XVI, in 2008. [Luca Bruno/Associated Press]

Vatican magistrates formally charged the butler of Pope Benedict XVI on Saturday with illegal possession of secret documents and said a wider investigation would take place to see if any accomplices had helped him leak them.

Some of the documents that the butler, Paolo Gabriele, is suspected of leaking claim cronyism and corruption in Vatican contracts, in a scandal that has come to be known as VatiLeaks. A Vatican statement referred to Mr. Gabriele, 46, who until his arrest on Wednesday night had been serving the pope meals and helping him dress, as “the defendant.”

It said that a preliminary inquiry had become a formal investigation, meaning that Mr. Gabriele had been formally charged, and that he had chosen two lawyers to defend him.

Because the Vatican has no jail, Mr. Gabriele was being held in one of the three so-called secure rooms in the offices of the Vatican’s tiny police force inside the walled city-state.

The Vatican promised that he would have “all the juridical guarantees foreseen by the criminal code of the State of Vatican City.”

A Vatican official said the investigation would try to determine whether Mr. Gabriele had acted alone.

The pope was said to be “pained” that someone in his household had been accused of betraying him. Mr. Gabriele lived in the Vatican with his wife and three children.

Commentators in Italian newspapers said they doubted that Mr. Gabriele could have acted alone, and some speculated that he had been a pawn in an internal power struggle.

“Never has the sense of disorientation in the Catholic Church reached these levels,” Alberto Melloni, a historian of the Roman Catholic Church, wrote in the newspaper Corriere della Sera. “But now there is something even more, a sense of systemic disorder.”

If convicted, Mr. Gabriele could face a sentence of up to 30 years for illegal possession of documents of a head of state. He would be likely to serve any time in an Italian jail because of an agreement between Italy and the Vatican.

The scandal involves the leaking of a string of documents to the Italian news media in January and February, including personal letters to the pope. Some of the documents claimed corruption, mismanagement and cronyism in the awarding of contracts for work in the Vatican and internal disagreement on the management of the Vatican bank.

Mr. Gabriele worked in the papal apartments of the Apostolic Palace, serving at the papal tables, handing rosaries to visiting dignitaries and riding in the first seat of the popemobile at papal audiences. He was privy to the goings-on in the most private rooms in the Vatican.

The pope had ordered several investigations, including one led by the Vatican police and another by a commission of cardinals.

The leaked documents included letters by an archbishop who was transferred to Washington after reporting what he saw as a web of corruption and cronyism, a memo that put a number of cardinals in a bad light and documents suggesting that there were internal conflicts about the Vatican Bank.

Private letters to the Vatican secretary of state and the pope from Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, a former deputy governor of Vatican City and currently the ambassador to Washington, showed that Archbishop Viganò had been transferred after he exposed what he described as the awarding of contracts to Italian contractors at inflated prices.


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