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Gabriele admits betrayal, but denies theft, in Vatican trial testimony

October 03, 2012

Paolo Gabriele, the former valet to Pope Benedict XVI, admitted that he had betrayed the Pontiff by taking confidential documents from the Vatican, but denied that he was guilty of theft, during testimony at his trial before a Vatican tribunal.

Gabriele, who is facing a theft charge, pleaded innocent. He said that he had taken documents in an attempt to expose corruption and manipulation within the Vatican. “I developed the conviction that it’s very easy to manipulate a person who has decision-making powers in his hands,” he said.

Italian police officials told the tribunal that they had discovered thousands of Vatican documents—including originals as well as photocopies--at Gabriele’s residence. Msgr. Georg Ganswein, the Pope’s private secretary, said that he had concluded Gabriele was stealing documents when he saw, in a book full of confidential Vatican documents, several which had been available only in the office he shared with the valet.

Gabriele testified that he had acted alone, without encouragement from any other Vatican official. But he revealed that he had discussed his concerns about the Pope’s staff with four people: Cardinal Paolo Sardi, the retired vice-chamberlain of the Vatican; Cardinal Angelo Comastri, the archpriest of the Vatican basilica; and Ingrid Stampa, a longtime member of the Pope’s office staff. In July, the Italian daily La Repubblica named the same 3 individuals, reporting that they were suspects in the “Vatileaks” investigation. At the time the Vatican press office dismissed the Repubblica story as inaccurate, suggesting that the two cardinals and the lay woman might have been among the many people questioned during a general investigation of the leaks.

During his testimony before the tribunal, Gabriele said that the had been subjected to inhumane treatment while he was held in a secure cell at the Vatican. A light had been left on constantly, he complained; and the cell was extremely small. Vatican officials concede that Gabriele was kept in a small cell, but say that the cell conforms with rules for European prison cells. The light was left on, they said, because Vatican security officials feared that Gabriele might do harm to himself if he were not watched closely at all times.


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  • Posted by: AgnesDay - Oct. 03, 2012 1:56 PM ET USA

    This poor man has a rationalization for everything. It will be interesting to see how Italian jurisprudence will deal with it.