Pope’s former butler goes on trial for Vatileaks

Paolo Gabriele, Pope Benedict XVI’s former butler, will go on trial Saturday for allegedly stealing the pope’s documents and passing them off to a journalist in what has since been dubbed as the Vatileaks scandal.

Gabriele has been charged with aggravated theft and faces up to four years in prison if convicted by the three-judge Vatican tribunal.

Gabriele earlier told investigators that he was acting as an agent for the Holy Spirit to rid the Catholic Church of “evil and corruption”.

The former butler will stand trial with Claudio Sciarpelletti, who according to court papers played a secondary messenger role in an unprecedented scandal that has threatened to expose major rifts at the heart of the Catholic Church.

He has already confessed and asked to be pardoned by the pope.

Reports said Gabriele’s case is the most “high-profile” since the Vatican tribunal was created in 1929 with the birth of the Vatican city state.

Giovanni Giacobbe, the Vatican’s appeals court prosecutor, said that despite the pope’s authority, Vatican judges are wholly independent.

“The judges have never received pressure to decide in one direction or another,” he told reporters at a Vatican briefing Thursday. “The pope can’t tell the tribunal what to do.”

Gabriele was arrested May 24 after Vatican police found what prosecutors called an “enormous” stash of documents from the pope’s desk in his Vatican City apartment.

Many of those documents appeared in the book “His Holiness: Pope Benedict XVI’s secret papers,” by Gianluigi Nuzzi, an Italian journalist whose earlier book on the Vatican bank caused a sensation.



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