Papal butler says he’s innocent of theft, but guilty of betraying pope
Paolo Gabriele, the papal butler charged with stealing and leaking papal correspondence, said he was innocent of charges of aggravated theft, but “I feel guilty for having betrayed the trust the Holy Father placed in me.”
“I loved him like a son,” Gabriele said of the pope during the second day of his trial.
The morning session of the trial Oct. 2 also featured brief testimony by Cristina Cernetti, one of the consecrated laywomen who work in the papal apartment; and longer testimony by Msgr. Georg Ganswein, Pope Benedict XVI’s personal secretary.
Msgr. Ganswein, who described himself as “extremely precise,” said he never noticed any documents missing, but when he examined what Vatican police had confiscated from Gabriele’s Vatican apartment, he discovered both photocopies and originals of documents going back to 2006, when Gabriele began working in the papal apartment.
Taking the stand first, Gabriele said widespread concern about what was happening in the Vatican led him to collect photocopies of private papal correspondence and, eventually, to leak it to a journalist.
“I was looking for a person with whom I could vent about a situation that had become insupportable for many in the Vatican,” he testified Oct. 2.
Gabriele told the court that no one encouraged him to steal and leak the documents.
Although he said he acted on his own initiative, Gabriele told the court he did so after “sharing confidences” about the “general atmosphere” in the Vatican with four people in particular: retired Cardinal Paolo Sardi, a former official in the Vatican Secretariat of State; Cardinal Angelo Comastri, archpriest of St. Peter’s Basilica; Ingrid Stampa, a longtime assistant to Pope Benedict XVI, going back to his time as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger; and Bishop Francesco Cavina of Carpi, who worked in the secretariat of state until 2011.
Gabriele said that although he had set aside some documents previously, he began collecting them seriously in 2010 after Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, then secretary-general of Vatican City State, was reported to have run into resistance in his attempt to bring spending under control and bring transparency to the process of granting work contracts to outside companies. The archbishop is now nuncio, or ambassador, to the United States.
Asked to describe his role in the papal household, Gabriele said he served Pope Benedict his meals, informed the Vatican Secretariat of State of the gifts given to the pope, packed the pope’s suitcases and accompanied him on trips, and did other “small tasks” assigned to him by Msgr. Ganswein.
“I was the layman closest to the Holy Father, there to respond to his immediate needs,” Gabriele said.
Being so close to the pope, Gabriele said he became aware of how “easy it is to manipulate the one who holds decision-making power in his hands.” [More]
Catholic News Service