September 29, 2012 - 13:08 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - The Vatican opened the public trial Saturday, Sept 29 of the pope's butler for allegedly stealing and leaking papal correspondence to a journalist, the most embarrassing scandal of Pope Benedict XVI's papacy, AP reports.
Paolo Gabriele, a 46-year-old father of three, faces up to four years in prison if he is convicted of aggravated theft in the worst security breach in the Vatican's recent history. He has already confessed, saying he acted to shed light on what he called "evil and corruption" in the church, and asked to be pardoned by the pope — something Vatican watchers say is a given if he is convicted.
His trial opened inside the austere, wood-trimmed courtroom of the Vatican tribunal, housed in a four-story palazzo inside the walls of Vatican City. Journalists covering the trial were required to leave their mobile telephones outside during the proceedings, and a written note delivered to the Vatican press office confirmed that the trial was indeed under way.
Gabriele, who was replaced as papal butler after his May 24 arrest, is accused of taking the pope's correspondences, photocopying the documents and handing them off to Italian journalist Gianluigi Nuzzi, whose book "His Holiness: The secret papers of Pope Benedict XVI," was published to great fanfare in May.
The most damaging letter reproduced in the book was written by the former No. 2 Vatican administrator to the pope, in which he begged not to be transferred as punishment for exposing alleged corruption in the awarding of Vatican contracts. The prelate, Monsignor Carlo Maria Vigano, is now the Vatican's U.S. ambassador.
Nuzzi has said his source, code-named "Maria" in the book, wanted to shed light on the secrets of the church that were damaging it. Taken as a whole, the documents seem aimed primarily at discrediting Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican secretary of state and Benedict's longtime trusted deputy. Bertone, 77, a canon lawyer and soccer enthusiast, has frequently been criticized for perceived shortcomings in running the Vatican.
Prosecutors quoted Gabriele as saying during his interrogation that he knew taking the documents was wrong, but that he felt the Holy Spirit was inspiring him to shed light on the problems he saw around him. He said he felt the pope was being kept in the dark or misinformed by his collaborators.
The length of the trial will depend in large part on the number of objections to the indictment and witness lists.