The Pope’s Butler on Trial: Top 10 Facts You Need to Know

Pope Benedict's Butler on Trial

Pope Benedict’s bulter is a man named Paolo Gabriele. Now, The pope’s former butler, he’s on trial in The Vatican. Gabriele claims he was just trying to expose corruption in the Vatican, but who exactly is he? And what is he on trial for? We have all the information you need to know:

1. Paolo Gabriele Lived A Modest Life

Paolo Gabriele: Pope's Butler on Trial

Gabriele is 46-year-old man and father of free children, who lived in a small, but comfortable Vatican apartment.

2. Paolo Gabriele Was, Indeed, The Pope’s Butler

Pope's Butler on Trial

Did you know the pope had a butler? I didn’t. It makes sense that he did, but it still seems strange. Gabriele’s duties included bringing Pope Benedict his meals and helping him dress.

3. He’s On Trial For Leaking Vatican Documents

Vatican Tribunal for Pope's Butler

Gabriele stole and leaked documents he gained access to through the pope’s desk. He was arrested in May when police found confidential documents in his apartment. He claims he was attempting to clean up corruption in the Vatican. He’s been charged with aggravated theft and confessed to his crime.

4. He Was Trying To Expose Graft And Corruption At The Vatican

Vatican City Corruption

Gabriele sees himself as a whistle-blower and “agent of the Holy Spirit.” He explained his actions to investigators, when at the indictment he said he saw “evil and corruption everywhere in the Church” and wanted to help root it out “because the pope was not sufficiently informed.”

5. His Leaks Revealed A Vatican Power Struggle

Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano

Among the leaks, some of the most explosive were letters to the pope written by Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano. At the time Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano was deputy governor of the Vatican City. He is currently the Vatican’s ambassador to the US.

In one letter, Vigano tells the pope that upon taking office he discovered that the Vatican was awarding outside contractors inflated contracts and awarding those contracts, the process was rife corruption, nepotism and cronyism.

In another letter, he warned of a smear campaign against him by other Vatican officials as retaliation for his attempted to clean up the issues he mentioned in the previous letter. He begged not to be moved away, but Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone transferred him to Washington D.C. anyway.

6. He Had An Accomplice

Computer Expert Leaks Vatican Documents

Gabriele had help leaking the documents. Claudio Sciarpelletti, a computer expert, has been charged with aiding and abetting Gabriele and might face up to a year in prison.

7. Vatican Trials Are Weird

Vatican Tribunal Pope's Butler on Trial

The trial will be based on a 19th-century Italian penal code and will be held in the Vatican tribunal, a small, wood-paneled room with a papal emblem on its ceiling. A three-judge panel will rule on his fate.

8. The Pope Had A Nickname For Gabriele

Paoletto, the Pope's Butler

The pope used to refer to Paolo Gabriele as “Paoletto” which means “Little Paul” in English. Now, he calls him defendant.

9. The Vatican Has No Prison

Vatican Has No Prison

If convicted, which is expected due to his aforementioned confession, Gabriele will have to spend time in an Italian prison because the Vatican has no jail.

10. The Pope Can Pardon Him

Pope Benedict and Paolo Gabriele

Even though Gabriele will be sent to an Italian prison once convicted, the pope will still have the power to pardon him and is widely expected to. The varying powers at work here can be a little dizzying, but that’s what happens when you have a major religious leader rule a city-state that exists within a larger country.

(h/t Reuters)

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