Pope's butler gets 18 months in prison

2012-10-06 12:37

Vatican City - Pope Benedict XVI's former butler Paolo Gabriele on Saturday got 18 months in prison for stealing secret documents from the Vatican that reveal fraud and intrigue in the tiny state.

Presiding judge Giuseppe Dalla Torre gave the ex-butler three years but immediately reduced the sentence to 18 months on the grounds of his past service rendered to the Catholic Church and his apology to the pope for betraying him.

"In the name of his holiness Pope Benedict XVI, who reigns in glory, and invoking the Holy Trinity... this court sentences the defendant to three years in prison," the judge said as Gabriele looked on impassively.

"Considering the absence of a criminal record, of the subjective though erroneous motivation, and the acknowledgement of having betrayed the trust of the holy father, it reduces the sentence to one year and six months," he added.

Sensitive documents

Gabriele was found guilty of stealing hundreds of sensitive Vatican documents from the pope's palace, including letters from cardinals and politicians and papers that the pontiff himself had marked "To Be Destroyed".

The Vatican's prosecutor, Nicola Picardi, had called for the former butler to go to jail for three years.

"It was a good sentence," said Gabriele's lawyer Cristiana Arru, who added that she would "have to evaluate" whether her client would appeal the ruling which brought to an end an expeditious trial that began just a week ago.

In his final statement, Gabriele said he had "acted out of visceral love for the church of Christ and of its leader on earth."

"I do not feel that I am a thief," he added, as Arru called on the judge to be lenient on a man who was driven by "a moral motivation" and who had by no means cooked up a "scheme or plot" aimed at damaging the church or the pope.

The former butler had claimed from the start that he wanted to root out "evil and corruption" at the heart of the Roman Catholic Church after observing that the 85-year-old pontiff was not well informed and perhaps even "manipulated".

Using the codename "Maria", Gabriele met with an Italian journalist over several months and passed him the confidential documents.

He had admitted responsibility for the leaks. While claiming to be "innocent" of the charge of theft, he said he felt "guilty" of betraying the trust the pope had placed in him.

The personal letter he wrote to Benedict to ask for his forgiveness no doubt influenced the judge's decision to cut his sentence in half.

Many experts have said he may receive a pardon from the pope, who has been following the case closely.

  • dave.kofang - 2012-10-06 12:47

    A church with secrets ,yhoo!I give up.

      Ramako Tshotetsi - 2012-10-06 13:39

      Exactly what Jews did to Apostle Paul and other Christians! this means they're not Christians but the opposite

      MagdaKus - 2012-10-06 19:32

      Every organization has confidential documents - particularly for dealing with "employees" who stuff up. Clearly none of the stuff was scandalous enough for its content to make big news... I mean the fact that there was confidential stuff stolen is bigger news than what the stuff actually said...

      Billy - 2012-10-06 22:44

      so by finding this man guilty they are admitting (their own religion is about power/money? by pardoning him afterwards will not make it any less true.

  • sedick.gydien - 2012-10-06 12:49

    The Vatican is like the ANC......shoot the messenger....

      phahla.matwa - 2012-10-07 05:50

      Is it a real church. Or its a brothel

  • gordon.turner.37 - 2012-10-06 13:00

    Screw little kids and the brothers will protect you. Swipe documents and it is prison. Nice club...

  • george.frangs - 2012-10-06 13:17

    Fraud and intrigue in the Vatican!? Does this surprise anybody??

  • johan.jacobs.33821 - 2012-10-06 13:31

    God forgive's the Pope doesn't

      johan.jacobs.33821 - 2012-10-06 13:50

      Just tranferred to another prison.

      MagdaKus - 2012-10-06 19:33

      Well- so you're recommending there no consequences? Forgiveness is one thing- but there's also justice?

  • SALife - 2012-10-06 14:05

    I agree the guy should be pardoned. I believe he did what he did to protect the Pope and the RC Church's interest. That's not stealing it heroism.

  • jac0debeer - 2012-10-06 14:07

    Sounds like the movie "Luther". I've just seen it and everything we hear and read about the Roman Catholic company is true and were reflected in that movie. They cannot be seen as part of the body or church of God any longer. I thank God for people like Paul, Luther and those who are willing to die so that others might know the truth.

  • pierre.walt - 2012-10-06 14:35

    He has to ask for forgiveness where the church act corrupt. God save this world.

  • Bluemoscow - 2012-10-06 14:36

    This world has no real leaders all our so called leaders are evil criminals and just there to be spoiled by our tax money thats why God said \NEVER Trust anybody but him\ just look at the ANC trusted it during the apartheid now look the mess it is doing to this country

  • gary.doyle.520 - 2012-10-06 14:42

    Religion is a farce. More a promise of false hope to the desperate. Hey, it's not much different than a goverment.

  • rebecca.pooe - 2012-10-06 14:42

    Shouldnt have apologised to the Pope,the Pope should be the one apologising to his followers for having greedy members in a supposed to be holy temple.

      dalai.rama.9 - 2012-10-06 15:14

      The 'Whorey' Temple!

      MagdaKus - 2012-10-06 19:36

      Judas was also one of Jesus' disciples. As the man in charge- what do you think Jesus' responsibility was in that case then?

  • Francois Joubert - 2012-10-06 15:20

    Geez the guy spent months in the creepy Vatican dungeon without trail? Yes the Vatican have their own law etc..and n0w after all have 2 go jail without collecting 200. Poor guy :(

  • richard.kumm.3 - 2012-10-06 16:40

    Is anything to be done against those who committed the fraud, etc? If this man is to be branded a criminal for exposing criminal acts, does this mean that all journalists are also to be branded as such? I dont think so! Justice should prevail. Give the butler a medal.

  • pierre.nortje.581 - 2012-10-06 19:01

    Probably was the Popes little Toy Boy who got fed up with being molested by His Horny-ess.

  • scholesss - 2012-10-06 21:23

    is there any religion which is not corrupt...\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nfew churches wil be...will be the great judgement day

  • phahla.matwa - 2012-10-07 05:57

    What kind of church is this. It is operating like a political party in government. The guy revealed corruption in the church

  • siphom.mnguni - 2012-10-07 07:20

    This man is what in South Africa is called a whistle-blower, alright? This Roman Catholic Church is the same church I learnt in the history books that it was the first church, right. In my first year at the university in the module Origins of law I learnt the same thing about both this church and the law. I grew up worshiping in this church. Previously I read some disturbing articles in the media about how the altar boys were molested and even sodomised by the priests. A man who revealed corruption is charged with theft and sentenced to a year-and-a-half. This church taught me forgiveness. Why was he not forgiven? Something is inherently wrong with this church.

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