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Court rejects defense request of pope's butler

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
September 30th, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Forty-six-year-old Paolo Gabriele, the self-proclaimed whistle-blowing butler of Pope Benedict XVI went to trial. Gabriele allegedly stole confidential documents from papal apartments in order to leak them to investigative media. The court swiftly rejected a defense request to enter evidence from a parallel investigation of broader issues of Vatican infighting.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Among the papers reportedly stolen are personal letters to the pope. Gabriele leaked the documents to an investigative journalist for use on television shows. The documents also were used in a bestselling book describing corruption and division at the center of the Roman Catholic Church.

Gabriele appeared pale and serious -- but composed in the austere courtroom decorated with a cross and a portrait of Pope Benedict.

Codefendant Claudio Sciarpelletti, a Vatican computer expert, was not in attendance. The three-judge panel decided that aiding and abetting charges against Sciarpelletti would be handled in a separate trial.

It was also decided that transcripts of Gabriele's conversations with Vatican police without an attorney would be scrapped.

Eight reporters from several countries have been invited to attend the trial. Predictably, the court rejected evidence from the second investigation, conducted by three cardinals at the Pope's behest.

The cardinals in theory were able to call their peers for questioning, whereas investigators in the court case were not.

Testimony on the substance of the accusations in the Gabriele case was not heard on Saturday. A list of witnesses was presented that included Msgr. Georg Gaenswein, the pope's personal secretary.

Panel president Giuseppe Dalla Torre adjourned the trial until later this week, saying that the court may be able to finish its work shortly.

The disclosure of secret Vatican documents has attracted global attention. Many analysts believe it is unlikely that much will be revealed in court about the infighting and power struggles indicated in the documents. The larger question -- about the parties who may have been helping Gabriele and who else wanted information leaked to the outside world, may go unanswered.

If convicted, many believe Gabriele will receive a papal pardon he asked for in a letter to the pope this summer.

Dubbed "Vatileaks," a series of disclosures of internal Vatican documents shed an extraordinary light on what happens within the thick walls of Vatican City, which heretofore has been clouded in secrecy.

Gabriele served the pope his meals, prepared his clothes and accompanied him at public appearances for six years. He has admitted that he took and passed on the documents, and has told prosecutors that he acted alone.

However, in the Vatican judicial system, a confession is not enough to convict a suspect -- corroborating evidence is needed.

Gabriele, a father of three, told prosecutors he was motivated by a desire to bring attention to the "evil and corruption everywhere in the church."

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