Pope's former butler goes to prison

Paolo Gabriele CNA Vatican Catholic News 5 28 12 The Pope's former butler, Paolo Gabriele. | CNA file photo.

Today the Pope's ex-butler was taken to prison for stealing his boss' private documents and leaking them to the press in the so-called "Vatileaks" scandal.

"The sentence in the trial of Paolo Gabriele, which has now become final, puts a full stop to the end of a sad affair which has had very painful consequences," read an Oct. 25 announcement from the Vatican's Secretariat of State.

Gabriele was sentenced Oct. 6 and ordered incarcerated in the Vatican prison to begin his 18-month sentence.

The Vatican communiqué declared the sentence "lenient and just."

"A personal offense was done to the Holy Father" and "the right to privacy of the many people who…addressed themselves to him was violated" began the litany of wrongs.

The Holy See and affiliated institutions also "suffered prejudice," "communications between the bishops of the world and the Holy See were hindered," and "scandal was caused among the community of the faithful."

The statement also underscored that the media sensation and speculation about Vatican conspiracies disturbed "the serenity of the working community which daily serves the Successor of Peter."

The Secretariat of State, headed by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, pronounced that the trial was a just one. The facts were discovered, it stated in today's communiqué, and they showed that Gabriele "had carried out his criminal plans not at the instigation of third parties, but on the basis of his own convictions. Various conjectures about the existence of plots" or third-party involvement have also been "shown to be false."

In a separate Oct. 25 statement, the Vatican's official spokesman, Father Federico Lombardi, confirmed that the sentence "has become final," the "promoter of justice this morning ordered the guilty party be imprisoned," and "the order will be carried out during the course of the day."

However, the possibility that Gabriele could receive a pardon from Pope Benedict XVI still remains, the Secretariat of State noted.

But that "reasonably presuppose(s)" Gabriele's repentance "and a sincere request for pardon to the Supreme Pontiff" and the others his theft "unjustly offended."

When Italian police officers searched Gabriele's apartment May 23, following the publication of several confidential letters in Italian journalist Gianluigi Nuzzi's book "Your Holiness," they discovered approximately 1,000 incriminating documents and 82 boxes of evidence.

During the week-long trial, the judges heard how Gabriele stole copies of confidential documents from the Papal Apartments. These included personal documents sent between the Pope and various cardinals, along with encrypted communications from papal ambassadors across the world.

Some of the papers were marked "to be destroyed" in German and were written in the Pope's handwriting.

The judges made the distinction that Gabriele's actions constituted theft and not embezzlement, since his actions showed no intention to obtain economic benefit.

During his trial, Gabriele told judges, "I do not feel like I'm a thief," adding that he "acted only out of visceral love for the Church of Christ and for its visible head on earth."

In his final court address, he said he acted alone and without accomplices.

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Yet the Vatican announced Oct. 23that the Claudio Sciarpelletti, a computer technician accused of helping Gabriele steal confidential papal documents, will go on trial Nov. 6.

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