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23/07/2012 | Vatican City - Vatileaks: Pope's butler says he acted 'out of love' for Benedict XVI

Nick Squires

The Pope's butler will tell a likely trial in the Vatican that he stole and leaked confidential documents "out of love" for Benedict XVI and to help his efforts to "clean up" the Roman Catholic Church.


After spending 60 days in detention in a "secure room" under the eyes of the Vatican's gendarmerie, Paolo Gabriele was released to house arrest at the weekend.

Vatican officials said he would most probably face trial on charges of stealing and leaking to Italian journalists letters and papers from the Pope's apartments within the Apostolic Palace, and that the trial would most likely start in the autumn.

His lawyers insisted at a Vatican press conference that he acted on his own initiative when he took the documents and stashed them in his Vatican apartment and denied that their client was part of any wider plot or power play within the Holy See.

Many Vatican observers have said they thought it unlikely that the 46-year-old valet was acting alone, amid reports of jostling for power to choose the Pope's eventual successor and Machiavellian manoeuvrings over alleged corruption within the Vatican administration and a measures to improve transparency within the Vatican bank, known as the Institute for Works of Religion.

"The motivations that prompted him to do certain things are all of an interior nature. There were no external motives," said Carlo Fusco, the butler's lawyer.

He said his client had been motivated by "the desire to do something that could be an act of help, an act of love, towards the pope".

He added: "Obviously the way in which each person expresses (such desires) is subjective and debatable."

Mr Gabriele has had plenty of time to reflect on what he did, after being arrested on May 23, and now regretted the theft of the documents, his lawyer said.

"We can say with absolute certainty that there was no network, there were no plots, either in the Vatican or outside the Vatican, that Paolo was part of," Mr Fusco said.

The butler's legal team insisted that he received no money or other reward for stealing the papers in what has been dubbed the "Vatileaks" scandal, amid perplexion among Vatican analysts over what motivated the theft.

A Vatican magistrate will decide in the next two weeks whether to formally charge Mr Gabriele with "aggravated theft", a crime for which he could be sent to prison for up to six years.

If he is sent to trial, as seems likely, it would start sometime after September.

But it is also likely that he will ask for a personal pardon from the German-born pontiff, his lawyers said.

Meanwhile, Benedict blessed the London Olympics during an audience at his summer residence in the hills outside Rome, Castel Gandolfo.

"I pray that, in the spirit of the Olympic Truce, the goodwill generated by this international sporting event may bear fruit, promoting peace and reconciliation throughout the world," the 85-year-old pontiff said.

"Upon all those attending the London Olympic Games, I invoke the abundant blessings of Almighty God," he said to cheers from the crowd.

Telegraph (Reino Unido)


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