Former Papal Assistant Charged With Aggravated Theft

Holy See Press Office Releases Indictment Charges Against Paolo Gabriele

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VATICAN CITY, AUG. 11, 2012 (Zenit.org).- Former papal assistant, Paolo Gabriele, has been formally charged with aggravated theft for his role in the leaking of private documents from the Vatican.

A 35 page document that lists the charges against Gabriele were released today by the Holy See Press Office. The document also names a second accomplice to the theft, Claudio Sciarpelleti, who will face charges for aiding and abetting the pope’s fomer assistant after the fact.

Sciarpeletti, an IT expert at the Secretary of State and acquaintance of Gabriele, was briefly detained May 25, after Vatican police found him in possession of an envelope from Gabriele. Though initially released after questioning, due to inconsistencies of his alleged whereabouts, the Vatican magistrates proceeded with minor charges against him.

The report also states that Gabriele initially denied involvement in the leaks to Msgr. Georg Gaenswein, the pope’s personal secretary. As further interrogations were made, the former papal assistant admitted to leaking the documents to Italian journalist, Gianluigi Nuzzi, who then published several private documents. Gabriele also stated that he received no monetary compensation for his role in the theft.

Regarding motive, Gabriele claimed that he believed the pope was unaware of corruption within the church, despite recognizing his actions were illegal. He went on to claim to be inspired by the Holy Spirit, believing that a media frenzy would be necessary for the Church to get “back onto the right track.”

According to the report, several personal items and gifts addressed to the Holy Father were found during the police search of Gabriele’s house. Among the items found was a gold nugget from Peru, A check made out to the pope for €100,000 and a 16th century edition of the Aeneid.

Fr. Federico Lombardi, director of the Holy See Press Office, emphasized that by releasing the formal charges to the media, the Vatican wished to show their desire for transparency, along with respecting the judgement and autonomy of the magistrates. Fr. Lombardi also said that because of this, the report of the Cardinal’s commission investigating the theft has not been published so as to not interfere with the work of the magistrate.

The director of the Holy See Press Office said that while as pope, Benedict XVI can intervene at any stage of the judicial process, the fact that he hasn’t means that the trial will go ahead as planned. Fr. Lombardi concluded saying that a date will be set after September 20 after the Supreme Tribunal of the Holy See returns from recess.