Trial of Pope's butler: Paolo Gabriele testifies

2012-10-02 Vatican Radio

(Vatican Radio) On the second day of his trial, Paolo Gabriele, the butler charged with stealing and leaking Pope Benedict’s correspondence, said he was innocent of charges of aggravated theft but guilty of betrayal. He said he loved the Pope like a son.
Vatican Radio's Susy Hodges reports: Listen:

Text of report follows:

Taking the stand first, Gabriele said what he described as widespread concern about what was happening in the Vatican led him to collect photocopies of the Pope’s private correspondence and eventually to leak it to a journalist. He told the court that no one encouraged him to steal and leak the documents. He also said hadn’t received any money or benefits for doing this. Although Gabriele said he acted on his own initiative he 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 going back to his time as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger and Bishop Francesco Cavina of Carpi, who worked in the secretariat of state until 2011.

Under questioning by his lawyer, Gabriele said he never showed any of the documents to the Pope but tried – conversationally--- to bring some concerns to the Holy Father’s attention.

The morning session of Gabriel’s trial, on October 2nd also featured testimony by Monsignor Georg Ganswein, the Pope’s personal secretary and Cristina Cernetti, one of the consecrated laywomen who work in the papal apartment. Monsignor Ganswein testified that he only began suspecting Gabriele in mid-May after a journalist published documents Monsignor Ganswein knew had never left the office he shared with Gabriele.

During the Tuesday morning session, Gabriele’s lawyer also asked him several questions about the 60 days he spent in Vatican detention, including whether or not it was true that he first was held in a tiny room and that, for the first 15-20 days, the Vatican police left the lights on 24 hours a day. Gabriele said both were true.

The Director of the Holy See’s press office, Father Federico Lombardi, however later told reporters that Judge Nicola Picardi, the Vatican prosecutor, had opened an investigation into the conditions under which Gabriele was detained. Later on Tuesday, the Vatican City State Gendarmes issued a communiqué confirming that the light was left on 24 hours a day but said this was done in order to prevent possible acts of self harm by the defendant and also for security reasons. The communiqué said Gabriele himself later requested that the light be left on during the night because it kept him company. The Vatican police said the other detention cell was undergoing renovation works at the time of Gabriele’s arrest and as soon as the building works were completed the defendant was moved into the new cell. The police also stressed that the treatment of Gabriele whilst in detention followed international norms including being allowed regular access to his family members and the chance to enjoy periods of relaxation and to socialise with the Vatican Gendarmes.