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Paolo Gabriele acted out of love for the Pope and Church, say lawyers

By on Monday, 23 July 2012

Paolo Gabriele, pictured front left, with the Pope in May (CNS)

Paolo Gabriele, pictured front left, with the Pope in May (CNS)

Everything that Paolo Gabriele did he did for love of the Church and the Pope, lawyers representing the papal butler accused of leaking private documents have said.

But Carlo Fusco and Cristiana Arru, the defence lawyers, said it was up to Vatican magistrates or a Vatican court to determine whether anything Mr Gabriele did was a crime.

The lawyers spoke to reporters on Saturday after Mr Gabriele was allowed to leave his cell and return to his Vatican apartment to be with his wife and three children. He had been in custody for 60 days.

Vatican magistrates said they had finished their interrogation of the 46-year-old and were putting him under house arrest. The magistrates are still drafting their formal decision on whether they believe they have enough evidence to put Gabriele on trial for his alleged part in the “Vatileaks” scandal.

Vatican spokesman Fr Federico Lombardi said he expected the decision to be published at the end of July or the beginning of August.

The report will be given to the Pope, Fr Lombardi said. Pope Benedict already has received the final conclusions of a separate investigation by a commission of three retired cardinals, appointed to investigate a series of leaks of Vatican documents.

After reading the reports, Pope Benedict could decide “how to go forward”, either allowing the process to continue or forgiving the man who had worked in the papal apartment since 2006, the spokesman said.

Mr Gabriele was arrested on May 23 after confidential letters and documents addressed to the Pope and other Vatican officials were allegedly found in his Vatican apartment. Similar documents had been published in Italian media over the previous five months. Many of them dealt with allegations of corruption, abuse of power and a lack of financial transparency at the Vatican.

Mr Fusco said Mr Gabriele cooperated 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,” he said. “There was no network, no conspiracy inside or outside the Vatican related to Paolo” and his actions.

Ms Arru added: “I absolutely exclude the idea that he received any money or benefit of any kind” from what he did.

At the same time, Mr Fusco and Mr Arru said that Mr Gabriele has expressed a desire to speak to the Pope and ask his forgiveness. Mr Fusco said that did not mean that Mr Gabriele had done anything criminal, but the Pope has said he was saddened by what happened and Mr Gabriele is sorry for that.

“He has been able to reflect much in these days and has come to the conclusion that his methods could have been different. Yes, he regrets the means he used,” Mr Fusco said.

After his arrest, Mr Gabriele was held in a 12ft by 12ft room in the Vatican police barracks. He was allowed to see his lawyers and his wife, and Vatican police accompanied him to Mass in the Vatican.

Mr Fusco and Ms Arru said that Mr Gabriele’s house arrest was granted under a number of normal conditions. He is not allowed to leave his Vatican apartment or communicate, including by telephone or internet, with anyone beside his immediate family, a spiritual adviser, and his doctor or lawyers except with the express permission of the Vatican magistrates.

Paolo Papanti-Pelletier, a Vatican judge not directly involved in the Gabriele case, told reporters in June that the papal butler faced between one year and six years in jail if convicted of aggravated theft under Vatican law. If found guilty after a public trial in the Vatican, he would serve his term in an Italian prison.

Under Vatican law, a suspect may be detained up to 50 days for formal questioning before trial, but the term can be extended. On July 12, the investigating magistrate asked for a further 10 days to complete his investigation of Gabriele.

While the magistrate serves as the chief investigator, whose responsibilities include questioning witnesses, he also must determine whether there is enough evidence to bring the accused to trial. If he decides there is not, the case is dismissed. Otherwise, he formally indicts the accused.

The Pope can intervene at any stage to suspend the process or to pardon or grant clemency to the accused.

  • Patrick_Hadley

    It is rather disturbing that the Holy See can detain someone for 50 days, or longer, without charge. And even more so in a case which at its worst involves causing embarrassment to those in high places by revealing the truth about what goes in the inner circles of power within the Church.

    In this country there was a heated debate about whether we should be able to hold those suspected of planning terror attacks for 28 days before charging them, and this has now been reduced to 14 days. For a case not involving terrorism a charge has to be made within 4 days of arrest. We have the Police and Criminal Evidence Act which means that all interviews are recorded and that lawyers are always present during questioning.  That does not happen in the Vatican. Why are Catholics not ashamed that the Holy See is setting such a bad example to the world of how to treat those who are suspected of a crime?

  • JonathanBurdon

    It strikes me as perfectly reasonable to be honest. The Vatican system can hardly be described as draconian and in all probability this man will receive no punishment. The UK, which you laud so much, has several prisoners who’ve been in prison for years without trial. How’s that better than the Vatican?

  • Tridentinus

     Different countries have different laws so when in Rome etc. There were rumours in the press that others might have been involved in a much wider conspiracy against the Pope and/or senior officials and as the magistrates had to ask for 10 more days it seems likely that the truth was difficult to get at.
    No surprise, however, to see whose side you are on.

  • Fr. Thomas Poovathinkal

    TRUST THE POPE. CERTAINLY HE MUST HAVE BEEN FOLLOWING THE WHOLE THING. THIS IS NO ORDINARY CASE.

  • Patrick_Hadley

    I am happy that you would expect me to be on the side of a prisoner whose human rights are being abused. Perhaps that is one way (maybe one the few ways) in which I am following the teaching of Our Lord.

  • Deesis

    What planet are you on? The accussed is a thief and a fraud. How dare he speak of love for the Pope. Just another Judas!
    I am not ashamed at all. I would not have let him return home at all but tried him semtenced him and off to jail with him!

  • Patrick_Hadley

    He may by a thief, but he has clearly repented. Remind me, who was it who forgave the thief and told him that this day he would be in paradise?

    As for offences against popes, I seem to remember that Blessed Pope John Paul II forgave the man who tried to kill him.

  • Patrick_Hadley

     Still not found your Caps Lock button?

  • Tridentinus

     Well whether his human rights have been abused or not is a moot point. What about the Pope’s human right to private correspondence without being at the mercy of those whom he trusts?
    Self-denigration such as (maybe one the FEW [my emphasis] ways in which I am following the teaching of Our Lord) always reminds me of the Parable of the Publican and the Pharisee, the latter claiming not to be not as bad as the fellow behind him.

  • Fr. Thomas Poovathinkal

     

    YOU SEEM TO HAVE TOO MANY ASSUMPTIONS AND PRESUMPTIONS! GREAT!

  • Fr. Thomas Poovathinkal

     
    DID JESUS FORGIVE THE ONE WHO DIPPED HIS FINGERS WITH HIM INTO THE SAME EATING PLATE AND THEN…WAS THERE ANY SCOPE LEFT  FOR IT BY THE ONE WHO DIPPED HIS FINGERS ALL RED WITH WARM BLOOD?

    IF ONE FALLS INTO THE TRAP OF PLAYING WITH WORDS PRACTISED BY PEOPLE CAUGHT  RE-HANDED IN THE ACT WHAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN TO THE FOUNDATION TRUTH AND JUSTICE IN THE WORLD?

    IF SUCH IS THE CASE GOING TO BE WHY NOT EMBRACE AND OWN  AS BELOVEDS ALL THE PEDOPHILES, HOMOES AND FORNIES IN THE MOST SACRED PLACES AND OFFICES OF TRUST?

  • Fr. Thomas Poovathinkal

    EVERYTHING SAID AND DONE, IF THE POPE DECIDES TO FORGIVE WE STAND BY HIM.
     

  • Patrick_Hadley

     I do not read your posts while you insist on SHOUTING. That is very bad manners and as a priest I suggest that you should try to set a good example. .

  • Michael Moran

    If only the Vatican acted the same way to child abusers in their church, and isn’t it about time they locked up a few of their child abusing priests that are running amok in Poland according to the brave local press that are exposing these fiends. 

  • RipK 30

    He rediculed the Pope and humiliated his holy office out of love?  The man is a psycho.

  • chiaramonti

    The butler’s activities, whatever they may have been, occurred within the jurisdiction of the State of the Vatican City. The activities of priests or religious in Poland, if they amount to a crime, occurred within the criminal jurisdiction of the Polish State. The Pope has no criminal jurisdiction in Poland, or anywhere else for that matter. The idea that the Vatican can deal with crimes committed by clergy in other countries is a myth.

  • Parasum

    ## Just more grandstanding by JP2.  That forgiveness was:

    1. public – contrary to the explicit teachhing of the Sermon on the Mount about *not* being seen doing good by others;

    2. fake – because it had no practical effect  on Ali Agca’s sentence. Real forgiveness means that the forgiving party sacrifices all ability to be avenged; it is costly. JP2′s pseudo-forgiveness did not stop Ali Agca  going to prison. And that makes it

    3. hypocritical.

  • King Ken

    Dear Father Thomas Poovathlinkal:  I’m just wondering if Judas Iscariot had realized more fully his sin; would he have followed Christ to Calvary and there thrown himself at his feet…whould Christ have forgiven him-?  Church Tradition tells us that Our Blessed Mother went  looking for Judas on Saturday morning only to discover the unthinkable.