Pope’s papers burgled, first Vatican criminal trial

Julian Assange, founder of the controversial website WikiLeaks, has made a name for himself by exposing corruption in the government and corporations alike. Paolo Gabriele, personal butler to Pope Benedict XVI for six years, seemed to have the same intentions when he burgled confidential documents from the Pope’s desk in Vatican City earlier this year.

But unlike Assange, Gabriele could not escape the grasp of the law.

After Gabriele gave letters detailing struggles for power and pleas for corruption to be suppressed to Italian journalist Gianluigi Nuzzi, the Italian press began speculating about what was going on inside the Vatican. A rigorous internal investigation led to the butler being apprehended and put under house arrest to wait for his trial.

That trial began on Oct. 2, leading to Gabrielle being sentenced to 18 months in an Italian prison. However, he is currently serving his sentence inside the Vatican.

“I developed the conviction that it’s very easy to manipulate a person who has decision making powers in his hands,” said Gabrielle according to Bloomberg, claiming that he had “no accomplices” in this particular act.

However, he went on to indicate that he was not the only person to have leaked information to the press, according to CNN. He also seems to have no regrets exposing the truth to the public, despite ruing the fact that he betrayed the Pope’s trust.

In spite of this, he maintained a not guilty plea, despite the lack of concrete evidence in his defense. But his main priority seemed to be protecting whoever might have helped him.

Further investigations have been launched into potential aides in this leak, but thus far Gabriele has been the only person sentenced. Most recently, a Vatican computer technician was suspected, but eventually acquitted.

The effects of this case can be felt across the globe and extends to Guilford. According to Director of Friends Center and Campus Ministry Coordinator Max Carter, an event like this could potentially serve the purpose of furthering the rift between opposing parties.

“I believe those who are prone to criticize the Vatican will find justification in these events,” said Carter in an email interview. “Those who have deep respect and reverence for the Church will, at least publicly, jump to its defense.”

As more details surface about the specifics of corruption occurring inside of the Vatican, time will tell if Carter’s statement proves to be accurate. For now, the papacy exerts its power in Vatican court and across the globe.

Historically, the Vatican has kept controversy under wraps, most recently the sexual abuse of children.

Gabriele’s attempt to unveil new secrets through illegal means has drawn attention to the Vatican once again.