Papal assistant indicted on theft charges in Vatileaks scandal

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The Catholic Register

Monday, 13 August 2012 13:28

Written by Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service

Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, turns pages of a press bulletin concerning Paolo Gabriele during its release to media at the Vatican Aug. 13
– CNS photo/Paul Haring

VATICAN CITY – Vatican magistrates have formally indicted Pope Benedict XVI’s personal assistant, Paolo Gabriele, on charges of aggravated theft and have indicted a computer technician from the Vatican Secretariat of State on minor charges of aiding Gabriele after he stole Vatican correspondence.

The publication Aug. 13 of the decision of Piero Bonnet, the Vatican’s investigating judge, included for the first time the naming of a second suspect, Claudio Sciarpelleti, the Secretariat of State employee.

Vatican police found an envelope from Gabriele in Sciarpelleti’s desk and arrested him, according to the documents explaining Bonnet’s judgment. While the computer expert gave “contrasting versions of the facts” to investigators, in the end it was determined that there was enough evidence to bring him to trial on a charge of aiding and abetting Gabriele after the fact.

The Vatican magistrates did not set a date for the trial or trials, but Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, said it would not be set before Sept. 20 because the Vatican court is in recess Aug. 14-Sept. 20.

Lombardi said the charge against Sciarpelleti carries a “very light” sentence, which is unlikely to include any jail time.

Pope Benedict could have intervened at any time to stop the investigation and legal process and he still has the option of clearing the two laymen without a trial. If the Pope does not intervene, Gabriele and Sciarpelleti would go to trial before a panel of three Vatican judges, all of whom are laymen and professors at Italian universities. Vatican law, like Italian law, does not foresee the use of juries in criminal trials.

Gabriele, who will turn 46 Aug. 19, faces a sentence of one to six years in prison. Under the terms of the Vatican’s 1929 treaty with Italy, a person found guilty and sentenced to jail time by a Vatican court would serve his term in an Italian prison.

Bonnet’s report quoted Gabriele as telling Vatican investigators he acted after seeing “evil and corruption everywhere in the Church” and he was sure Pope Benedict was not fully informed about what was going on.

“I was certain that a shock, even in the media, could be healthy in putting the Church back on the right track,” Gabriele was quoted as saying. “In a certain way I felt infiltrated” by the Holy Spirit, he said.

Gabriele also made it clear that he had discussed with a spiritual advisor his concerns about the Church and his thoughts in taking the documents. In fact, Bonnet said, the priest affirmed that Gabriele had given him a box full of documents, which the priest told Vatican investigators he burned because he knew “they were the fruit of an act that was not legitimate” and because he feared they would be stolen from his residence which had been burglarized a few months earlier.

Gabriele was arrested May 23 after confidential letters and documents addressed to the Pope and other Vatican officials were found in his Vatican apartment, Bonnet’s report said. Many of the documents were the same as those featured in a January television program by Italian journalist Gianluigi Nuzzi and later published in a book by him. Most of the documents dealt with allegations of corruption, abuse of power and a lack of financial transparency at the Vatican.

Gabriele told investigators how he met Nuzzi in an apartment near the Vatican and described in detail the measures he and Nuzzi took to avoid detection.

Bonnet said investigators also found in Gabriele’s apartment: a cheque made out to Pope Benedict for 100,000 euros (almost $123,000 U.S.) from a Catholic university in Spain; a nugget — presumably of gold — from the director of a gold mining company in Peru; and a 16th-century edition of a translation of the Aeneid.

Gabriele was questioned repeatedly over the two-month period he spent detained in a room in the Vatican police barracks. He was allowed to return, under house arrest, to his Vatican apartment with his wife and family July 21 and will remain under house arrest until his trial. His lawyers had explained in July that the house arrest included a number of conditions: He may not leave his Vatican apartment or communicate, including by telephone or Internet, with anyone beside his immediate family, a spiritual advisor, his doctor or lawyers except with the express permission of the Vatican magistrates.

The defense lawyers, Carlo Fusco and Cristiana Arru, have said everything their client did, he did for love of the Church and the Pope. However, whether or not any of those actions were crimes will be up to Vatican magistrates or a Vatican court to determine, they told reporters.

Fusco had said Gabriele co-operated with Vatican investigators “very broadly” throughout the investigation.

“One thing Paolo repeated to us and to the judge was that he always was and still is motivated by a desire to do something that would be an act of helping, an act of love for the Pope,” Fusco said.

The lawyers said Gabriele was not part of any network or conspiracy and they insisted he received no money for what he did. At the same time, Fusco and Arru said that Gabriele has expressed a desire to speak to the Pope and ask his forgiveness. Fusco said that did not mean that Gabriele did anything criminal, but the Pope has said he was saddened by what happened and Gabriele is sorry for that.

Fusco also revealed that Gabriele had written “a confidential letter to the Pope,” asking for his forgiveness and telling the pope he had acted alone. The lawyer said that because it was not part of the legal process, he had not read the letter, which was given to a commission of cardinals carrying out a separate investigation of leaks.

6 Responses to Papal assistant indicted on theft charges in Vatileaks scandal

  1. MS says:

    *We are not reading about real life here, not normal people, not the way we think life is supposed to be in this “holy” city. This is sophisticated crime.  This is Mafia …Freemasonry.
    We can’t get our heads around this.  It resembles insanity more than a mental institution.

  2. Bobbie Bees says:

    * Geez, I wonder what exactly the Pope wants to hide. I dunno, I’m sorry, but I can only see the Vatican as being part and parcel of the whole problem facing the church. It’s a scam. It’s nothing but a bunch of con-men, snake oil salesmen and shysters fleecing the believers.
    I’m not part of any church, nor do I have anything other than some spiritual beliefs and a decent moral compass, so maybe I’m not the one to be saying anything.
    But, I will say this. If you want to save your church, you need to start rising up and eradicate the cancer that has begun to eat this establishment from the inside out.

  3. Mike Fitzgerald says:

    Bobbie Bees;
         I agree. I said some time ago that ever since I was a child i have been warned to watch out for “the evil one”, who prowls the world seeking the ruin of souls.
         If you believe in any concept of evil, (or Satan for that matter) you can also accept the possibility that the “evil one” has infiltrated the catholic church at the Highest level of it’s power.
         I hope this isn’t the case way down deep in my heart, but acts speak louder than words, don’t they?  Mike.

  4. john says:

    *So typical of the Catholic Church I was raised in. The “spiritual advisor” destroys the evidence documents because they were ‘the fruit of illegitimate acts’. God forbid that we get physical evidence of the corruption in the inner workings of the Catholic church. Does anyone really believe that this was the reason for burning the evidence. Did Paolo the whistle blower make copies? If not, he is hardly a hardened criminal.

    I am retired now, but in the last decade or so I have attempted to try to reclaim whatever fragments of truth there may have been in my catholic upbringing. Reviewing the gospels and Paul’s writings, I see no resemblance of the Catholic Church with the platform of the God/man Jesus, the Christ. Paul, the apostle, makes it very clear in Galatians that ‘accursed be those who change the message of the gospel.

    I make only two of soooo many examples of the Roman Catholic Church out phariseeing the pharisees.

    It is my understanding that there was a decree in canadian provincial diocese’s, that to attend the non-catholic funeral of a friend was a sin punishable with excommunication. Wonder why Jesus was eating with publications and the like.

    Secondly,  to tell elementary children that eating meat on Friday, Impure thought and actions, missing Mass on Sunday & Holy days of obligation, and the crazy making idea that to doubt one’s faith (wine into water, raising of the dead, feeding the folowers from a few fish) was a direct ticket to hell. Jesus would not be amused.

    Please don’t tell me these are aberrations or mistruths. Thousands of former Catholics of my age will tell you they aren’t. If you still want to argue these facts, I will tell my personal experiences with sexually disturbed priests. This should not be necessary, should it. the one priest has had his former diocese write the secular courts to ask he not be released on parole even after seven years in prison. Get a feel for my distrust.

    Nonetheless, I have a need for a saviour. So does this world. I accept that I am the problem and must make the change in me, not with the church.  Jesus would surely weep if the “arrogant, ignorant and naive catholics could see this religion as it has processed power and control in His name.

    I will continue to follow the path of conscience awareness that hunble writers like DeMello and Tolle suggest. If the miracles and harshness of Chrisitan doctrine prove to be true – I will take my chances that the mercy of God will supercede pharisee like rules and pronouncements of Catholicism Thank you for any ‘wise and sensitive’ responds.

  5. Mike Fitzgerald says:

         To sum it up in a nutshell John,what is upsetting most of us “old” catholics is the obvious hypocrisy. We are having serious difficulties coming to terms with what we were taught in the old “Butler” catechism, and making it still apply now. It can’t be done!
         Couple that with the on-going sexual deviancy of some catholic clergy, and the criminal sexual abuse of many of us, it becomes nigh onto impossible.
        It is also becoming apparent that the church, from the vatican right down to the parish priest, doesn’t REALLY care. The biggest concern seems to be preservation of “the old boys club” at all cost. Just take a look at the charade that is going on in New Brunswick as we speak. Actions speak louder than cheap words.   Mike.

  6. Sylvia says:

    There is nothing wrong with the message john.  There are problems with a goodly number of the messengers:  the wolves in sheep’s clothing. Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.

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