Vatileaks trial: the butler talks
In an unexpected twist, Paolo Gabriele and his lawyer tried to turn the tables on the Vatican by putting the spotlight on alleged mistreatment incurred by the Pope’s former butler during the first few weeks of his detention.
He claimed he was held for at least 15 days in a cell too small to stretch his arms and the light was kept constantly on, even at night.
The move sent the Vatican into damage control mode during an eventful second day of the Vatileaks trial which also saw testimonies from Pope Benedict’s personal secretary, Monsignor Georg Gaenswein, and one of the pontiff’s consecrated chamberwomen.
During the hearing, Gabriele said he was “innocent” of stealing the Pope’s private papers – he stressed on several occasions that he photocopied Benedict’s confidential documents as he worked in the secretaries’ office, often under their own unsuspecting eyes – while admitting that he felt “guilty” for betraying the Pope’s trust.
But Gabriele was at a loss when asked to explain the motives that led him to accumulate 82 boxes full of papers, dozens of private papal documents intermixed with thousands of newspaper clippings and printouts from the internet, on topics as diverse as Freemasonry and the secret services. “It is hard, if not impossible, to find a reason for something as irrational as what befell to me,” he said.
He recounted to Vatican judges how he had often been invited to sit down with Benedict and his staff at meals and that on those occasions he become convinced that the Pope could be easily manipulated.
“What scandalized me was how differently some things were perceived by the people and by those in power,” he said, adding that the Pope sometimes “asked questions about things he should have been informed about.”
Gabriele flatly denied having any accomplices or taking money or other benefits in exchange for leaking the documents. But he mentioned several others, including two Italian cardinals and other senior Vatican officials, as people he had been speaking to and whose conversation might have played a part in leading him to his actions. [More]