Pope's butler must stand trial - court

2012-08-13 16:16
Vatican spokesperson Father Federico Lombardi meets with journalists at the Vatican. (Gregorio Borgia, AP)

Vatican spokesperson Father Federico Lombardi meets with journalists at the Vatican. (Gregorio Borgia, AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Vatican City - Pope Benedict XVI's former butler and another Vatican employee must stand trial for stealing and leaking confidential papers in a scandal that exposed feuds within the Church, a magistrate said on Monday.

Paolo Gabriele, who was arrested in May on suspicion of stealing secret documents from the pope's office and leaking them to journalists, is accused of "aggravated theft", a statement said.

Judge Piero Bonnet also charged Claudio Sciarpelletti, an analyst and computer programmer in the Vatican state secretariat - whose name had not been disclosed before - with complicity.

Vatican spokesperson Federico Lombardi told journalists the investigation into a "wide and complex case" was not yet over and would continue to target others believed to be implicated.

Gabriele risks up to six years in prison. The Vatican has said the trial will not take place until October at the earliest.

Lombardi said that Sciarpelletti had played a "marginal role" and could not really be considered an accomplice.

Close-knit community shocked

The 46-year-old butler was arrested during an investigation into the leak of private papal documents to the media. He was held for 53 days in a Vatican cell before being put under house arrest in July to await the judge's decision.

The Vatican said after his arrest it had found documents and copying equipment in Gabriele's home, revelations which shocked the close-knit Holy See community and saddened the 85-year-old German pontiff.

The father-of-three is alleged to have photocopied and leaked top-secret e-mails and letters, taken from the desk of Georg Gaenswein, the pope's private secretary.

Gabriele's lawyers have denied media reports that their client was part of a wider whistleblowing operation aimed at shaking up the Vatican hierarchy.

There is a suspicion that he acted sincerely but was then manipulated as part of long-standing rivalries within the secretive Vatican administration.

"We don't think we have finished our work .... The inquiry is still open with regard to other people who appear to be implicated," spokesperson Lombardi quoted prosecutor Nicola Picardi as saying on Monday.


Gabriele, known as Paoletto, began working for the pope in 2006 and was one of a select few with access to Benedict's private chambers.

Under Vatican laws, a reprieve from the pope could come at any moment during the investigation or trial, but religious observers say that while Benedict may offer his spiritual pardon, he is unlikely to interfere in the legal process.

The Vatican has been shaken by the scandal, which has drawn attention to divisions between senior clergymen in the Vatican and in particular growing criticism of the powerful Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone.

While the Vatican has officially reassured Bertone of its support and denied media reports of an internal power struggle, the embarrassment to the Church has been widespread and has taken a physical toll on the pontiff.

It is just the latest in a string of scandals which have plagued the Vatican in recent years, from allegations of money-laundering to clerical sex abuse.

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
Read more on:    roman catholic church  |  pope benedict xvi  |  vatican city  |  religion

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Rugby World Cup 2015

All the action from the 2015 RWC, including live coverage of all 48 matches, breaking news, fixtures, results, logs - and much more!


Rugby World Cup 2015

Habana believes in younger Boks
All Blacks ready for a 'hell of a battle'
Barnes to ref Boks, Wales clash
Brave Blossoms: 'Sport heroes of Japan'

Your incisive and innovative mind is on fire. You may be keen to explore new avenues that can help to inspire you. You may...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.