A few paragraphs on the butler’s sentence…

… from Dr. Robert Moynihan, editor of Inside the Vatican magazine, via his Moynihan Report:

No we know the reasoning of the Vatican’s judges in the ongoing “Vatileaks” case.

The three-judge Vatican tribunal that convicted the Pope’s former butler of stealing sensitive papal documents today issued its written explanation of how it reached its October 6 verdict against Paolo Gabriele.

It said Gabriele’s crime was a “reprehensible” violation of trust that damaged the Pope himself and the rights of the Holy See, of the Vatican City State, and of the entire Catholic Church.

Noting what they termed Gabriele’s “simplistic” intellectual capacity, the judges agreed that Gabriele did think he was doing the right thing by leaking the documents.

Gabriele admitted during his trial three weeks ago that, while working closely with Pope Benedict and his two personal secretaries, he had photocopied documents, then given them to an Italian journalist for publication. His reason? Not for money, he testified, but to somehow bring to Pope Benedict’s attention the “evil and corruption” around him, matters he believed the Pope was not being suffiently informed about. (During the trial, Gabriele testified that sometimes the Pope, as he ate dinner — Paolo served the Pope his meals, and sometimes actually sat down at table and dined with him — the Pope would express little or no knowledge of certain matters, especially regarding internal Vatican affairs, that Gabriele said he felt the Pope should have been well-informed about…) Gabriele was convicted of aggravated theft and sentenced to 18 months in prison, currently being served under house arrest (he lives in an apartment inside Vatican City with his wife and three chidlren).

Father Federico Lombardi, head of the Vatican press office, said today that a papal pardon of Gabriele is still a possibility.

But a pardon seems less likely now than several weeks ago, when some were expecting the Pope to pardon Gabriele immediately after the verdict and sentencing. That did not happen. So it is possible that he will actually be confined for the next year and half.

And Father Lombardi noted that the investigation into Gabriele remains open and that prosecutors could still charge him with other, different crimes.

The judges in their written explanation said Gabriele betrayed the “good name” of all the people involved in the case, and that secrecy owed to the Pope in his role as a sovereign.

Some observers saw this as a hint at the direction Vatican prosecutors may take if they pursue further charges against the former butler.

Gabriele’s attorney has decided not to appeal the verdict or sentence.

Though previously the Vatican had said Gabriele would serve his 18 months in an Italian prison, because the Vatican itself does not have a long-term detention facility, the Vatican today said Gabriele will be kept in a room inside the barracks of the Vatican gendarmes, not in an Italian jail.

This seems intended to keep Gabriele from talking to people outside of the Vatican, for example, other prisoners in an Italian prison.

Moynihan also reports that a second defendant was named in this “Vatileaks” case: “Claudio Sciarpelletti, 48, a computer expert in the Vatican’s Secretariat of State. Sciarpelletti was accused of aiding and abetting Gabriele’s crime. He has said through his lawyer that he is innocent.”

Sciarpelletti’s trial is due to start November 5th. For more, visit the Moynihan Report page.

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About Carl E. Olson 1220 Articles
Carl E. Olson is editor of Catholic World Report and Ignatius Insight. He is the author of Did Jesus Really Rise from the Dead?, Will Catholics Be "Left Behind"?, co-editor/contributor to Called To Be the Children of God, co-author of The Da Vinci Hoax (Ignatius), and author of the "Catholicism" and "Priest Prophet King" Study Guides for Bishop Robert Barron/Word on Fire. His recent books on Lent and Advent—Praying the Our Father in Lent (2021) and Prepare the Way of the Lord (2021)—are published by Catholic Truth Society. He is also a contributor to "Our Sunday Visitor" newspaper, "The Catholic Answer" magazine, "The Imaginative Conservative", "The Catholic Herald", "National Catholic Register", "Chronicles", and other publications. Follow him on Twitter @carleolson.