May 23, 2013
Butler stole papers pope wanted destroyed, police says
Pope Benedict's former butler stole highly sensitive papers the pontiff had marked "to be destroyed" and compromised Vatican security through his actions, the Holy See's police told his trial.
On the third day of Paolo Gabriele's trial, testimony depicted a man fascinated by the occult, Masonic lodges, secret services and past Italian and Vatican scandals.
"You can understand our unease when we saw these documents. This was a total violation of the privacy of the papal family," said police agent Stefano De Santis, one of the four agents who said they found the papers in Gabriele's home, using a Vatican term for the pope's closest aides.
Gabriele's leak to an Italian journalist of sensitive documents, some of them alleging corruption in the Vatican, caused one of the biggest crises of Pope Benedict's papacy.
It threw an unflattering spotlight on the inner workings of a city-state eager to shake off a series of scandals involving sexual abuse of minors by clerics around the world and mismanagement at its bank.
Gabriele, a trusted servant who served the pope meals, helped him dress and rode in the popemobile, has admitted passing papers to the journalist at secret meetings, but told the court at a previous hearing he did not see this as a crime.
The former butler sat impassively and occasionally smiled during Wednesday's 75-minute session as Vatican policemen told the court how they searched his apartment in the Vatican on May 23, the night of his arrest, and what they found.
The mass of incriminating documents, most of which were hidden in huge piles of papers stashed in a large wardrobe, included personal letters between the pope, cardinals and politicians on a variety of subjects.
Some papers, De Santis said, bore the pope's handwriting and had been marked "to be destroyed" by the pontiff in German. He did not say what those papers concerned.
Some of the documents were copies of encrypted documents. "One photocopy was enough to threaten the operations of the Holy See," De Santis told the court, without elaborating.
The agents said they found a mass of documents and books filled with newspaper clippings on the occult, secret services, Masonic lodges, yoga, political scandals in Italy, scandals involving the Vatican bank and other subjects.