Paolo Gabriele, Pope’s ex-butler, to stand trial for stealing confidential papers
Paolo Gabriele, former butler to Pope Benedict XVI, will stand trial for stealing confidential papers and leaking them to the press, a magistrate has ruled.
Paolo Gabriele was arrested in May after police found confidential documents at his Vatican flat.
He has been charged with aggravated theft while another Vatican employee, a computer analyst, faces complicity charges.
The Vatican says it is continuing to investigate the leaks.
Paolo Gabriele told investigators he acted because he saw “evil and corruption everywhere in the church”, according to Reuters.
If convicted, he faces up to six years in prison.
The Vatican also accuses computer analyst Claudio Sciarpelletti of acting as Paolo Gabriele’s accomplice.
The trial will not take place until October at the earliest, Judge Piero Bonnet has told the press.
Earlier this year a series of media leaks, dubbed “Vatileaks”, exposed alleged corruption and conflicts at the Holy See.
In April, the Pope set up a special commission of cardinals to find the source of the leaks.
As the Pope’s butler and personal assistant, Paolo Gabriele, 46, was one of a select few lay people with access to the papal apartments.
He has been living under house arrest at his family’s Vatican flat, where police discovered a stash of confidential correspondence taken from the Pope’s Secretariat of State.
Paolo Gabriele’s lawyer said his client confessed to stealing the papers but told investigators he thought he was acting in the interests of the Catholic Church.
His arrest took place shortly after the publication of a controversial book, entitled His Holiness, by Italian investigative journalist Gianluigi Nuzzi.
The bestseller featured reproductions of private correspondence between the Pope and his personal secretary discussing corruption and malpractice among Vatican administrators.
The Vatican called the book “criminal” and vowed to take legal action against the author, publisher, and whoever leaked the documents.
Gianluigi Nuzzi has refused to divulge whether Paolo Gabriele was one of his sources.
Some Vatican observers believe Paolo Gabriele may be the scapegoat for a wider conspiracy to smear certain of the Pope’s top aides.
The highly sensitive media leaks have been an evident embarrassment to the Pope, prompting the rare investigation.
The Vatileaks scandal has dominated the columns of Italian newspapers, filling TV programmes and magazines.
The controversy began in January, when Gianluigi Nuzzi published letters from a former top Vatican administrator begging the Pope not to transfer him for having exposed alleged corruption.
Other leaked documents concerned “poison pen” memos criticizing Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the pope’s number two, and the reporting of suspicious payments by the Vatican Bank.