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President Francois Hollande has met Pope Francis at the Vatican on his first foreign visit since reports of his alleged affair with actress Julie Gayet.
A Vatican statement said Francois Hollande and Pope Francis’ talks covered the family, bioethics and respect for religious communities.
France is planning to amend its laws on abortion and assisted suicide.
Francois Hollande’s partner, Valerie Trierweiler, spent a week in hospital amid claims he had been having an affair with Julie Gayet.
Julie Gayet has announced she is suing Closer magazine, which published the original reports, for breach of privacy.
Valerie Trierweiler, meanwhile, is travelling to India on Sunday in support of the work of the French charity Action Against Hunger.
On Thursday she sacked her lawyer for saying she was seeking to end her relationship withFrancois Hollande “with the greatest possible dignity”.
Valerie Trierweiler told the Europe 1 radio network she “felt betrayed”.
Francois Hollande has met Pope Francis at the Vatican on his first foreign visit since reports of his alleged affair with actress Julie Gayet
Speaking after their meeting, Francois Hollande said he had asked the Pope if the Vatican would receive a delegation from one of Syria’s main opposition groups, the National Council.
Talks aimed at ending the three-year-old Syrian conflict are under way in Switzerland.
“We need to do everything to stop the fighting and dispatch humanitarian aid,” Francois Hollande said.
Hours before Francois Hollande arrived in Rome, a small bomb exploded outside the offices of a French foundation near the Vatican. No-one was injured, police said, but three parked cars were damaged.
In addition to his alleged affair with Julie Gayet, Francois Hollande and Valerie Trierweiler have never married – a further irritant to Catholic traditionalists.
Francois Hollande has refused to state whether Valerie Trierweiler remains his official partner and the first lady of France. The president has promised to clarify the situation before he makes a state visit to Washington next month.
He also has four children with his previous partner, Segolene Royal.
Relations between the Catholic Church and Francois Hollande’s Socialist Party have also been strained at a policy level.
The French National Assembly on Tuesday voted to strengthen the right to abortion and is considering a bill on assisted suicide.
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Former Pope Benedict XVI defrocked nearly 400 priests in only two years over claims of child abuse, the Vatican has confirmed.
The statistics for 2011 and 2012 show a dramatic increase compared with previous years, according to a document obtained by the AP.
The file was part of Vatican data collected for a UN hearing on Thursday.
It was the first time the Holy See was publicly confronted over the abuse of children by clergy.
Church officials at the hearing in Geneva faced a barrage of hard questions covering why they were withholding data and what they were doing to prevent future abuse.
Victims’ advocates complained there was still too little transparency.
Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi initially said the AP report had been based on a mistaken reading of data.
But he later retracted his statement.
Former Pope Benedict XVI defrocked nearly 400 priests in only two years over claims of child abuse
The latest statistics reveal the number of priests defrocked in 2011 and 2012 was more than double the 171 priests removed in 2008 and 2009, when the Vatican first provided figures.
The Vatican also sent another 400 cases to either be tried by a Church tribunal or to be dealt with administratively, AP reports.
Pope Benedict XVI, who was elected in 2005, took the helm as the scandal of child abuse by priests was breaking.
The flood of allegations, lawsuits and official reports into clerical abuse reached a peak in 2009 and 2010, which observers say may explain the spike shown in the document.
The Holy See is a signatory to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, a legally binding instrument which commits it to protecting and nurturing the most vulnerable in society.
It ratified the convention in 1990 but after an implementation report in 1994 it did not submit any progress reports until 2012, following revelations of child abuse in Europe and beyond.
Last month, the Vatican refused a request from the UN’s Committee on the Rights of the Child for data on abuse, on the grounds that it only released such information if requested to do so by another country as part of legal proceedings.
In a homily on Thursday, Pope Francis called abuse scandals “the shame of the Church”.
Pope Francis announced in December that a Vatican committee would be set up to fight abuse of children in the Church.
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Pope Francis told Vatican officials he wants them to display professionalism and competence as well as holiness in their lives.
The pontiff warned Vatican administrators Saturday that their work can take a downward spiral into mediocrity, gossip and bureaucratic squabbling if they forget that theirs is a professional vocation of service to the church.
Pope Francis made the comments in his Christmas address to the Vatican Curia, the bureaucracy that forms the central government of the 1.2-billion strong Catholic Church. The speech was eagerly anticipated given that Pope Francis was elected in March on a mandate to overhaul the antiquated and oftentimes dysfunctional Vatican administration.
Already, heads have started to roll. Just last week, Pope Francis reshuffled the advisory body of the powerful Congregation for Bishops, the office that vets all the world’s bishop nominations. He removed the archconservative American Cardinal Raymond Burke, a key figure in the US culture wars over abortion and gay marriage, and also nixed the head of Italy’s bishops’ conference and another hard-line Italian, Cardinal Mauro Piacenza, earlier axed as head of the Vatican office responsible for priests.
Other changes are on the horizon. In the coming weeks Pope Francis will name his first batch of cardinals and in February will preside over the third summit of his “Group of Eight” cardinal advisers, who are expected to put forward a first round of proposals for revamping the Holy See bureaucracy.
Pope Francis told Vatican officials he wants them to display professionalism and competence as well as holiness in their lives
Pope Francis has said he wants a Vatican Curia that is more responsive to the needs of local bishops, who have long complained of Rome’s slow or unhelpful interventions in their work caring for souls. The Pope has said he wants the church as a whole to be less consumed with moralizing than showing mercy to the needy, wherever they are.
The pontiff thanked the cardinals, bishops and priests gathered in the Clementine Hall for the Christmas address for their work, diligence and creativity. Deviating from his prepared text, he said: “There are saints in the Curia!”
He also reminded them that Vatican officials must display professionalism and competence as well as holiness in their lives.
“When professionalism is lacking, there is a slow drift downwards toward mediocrity. Dossiers become full of trite and lifeless information, and incapable of opening up lofty perspectives,” he said.
“Then too, when the attitude is no longer one of service to the particular churches and their bishops, the structure of the Curia turns into a ponderous, bureaucratic customs house, constantly inspecting and questioning, hindering the working of the Holy Spirit and the growth of God’s people.”
Pope Francis also repeated a warning he has issued on several occasions in his morning homilies at the Vatican hotel where he lives: an admonition against gossiping. The secretive, closed world of the Vatican is a den of gossip, as revealed publicly last year by the leaks of papal documents from then-Pope Benedict XVI’s butler.
Using terminology familiar to those present, Pope Francis called for Vatican officials to exercise “conscientious objection to gossip”.
“Let us all be conscientious objectors, and mind you I’m not simply moralizing! Gossip is harmful to people, our work and our surroundings.”
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A man set himself on fire in St Peter’s Square in Vatican City, church officials have said.
The 51-year-old poured petrol over his body before setting himself alight on Thursday morning, the Vatican said in a statement.
The man was taken to hospital with severe burns on his upper body.
The Vatican told journalists the motives for the man’s actions remained unknown.
Officials said a Jesuit priest walking across the square had tried to smother the flames with his cloak.
The man has been severely injured after setting himself on fire in St Peter’s Square in Vatican City
He was then joined by two police officers who managed to put out the blaze with a blanket and fire extinguisher.
The officers were taken to hospital and treated for “respiratory problems and burns to the hands”, the Vatican said.
The Vatican added that the authorities found a piece of paper with the phone number of the man’s daughter near the scene of the incident.
Vatican has decided to suspend Bishop of Limburg Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst – dubbed the “bishop of bling” by the media – over his alleged lavish spending.
The senior German Church leader is accused of spending more than 31 million euros ($42 million) on renovating his official residence.
The Vatican said it deemed “appropriate… a period of leave from the diocese” for the bishop.
The suspension comes two days after he met the Pope to discuss the matter.
“A situation has been created in which the bishop can no longer exercise his episcopal duties,” a Vatican statement said.
It said a Church commission would rule on the matter, but did not say where Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst, 53, would go or what he would do while the inquiry was held.
The head of Germany’s main lay Catholic group, the Central Committee of German Catholics, Alois Glueck, welcomed the Vatican’s decision.
Vatican has decided to suspend Bishop of Limburg Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst over his alleged lavish spending
He said: “Pope Francis’s decision offers the chance of a first step toward a new beginning in the Limburg diocese, because the situation has become an increasing burden for the faithful there, and in all of Germany, over recent weeks.”
Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst – and his spending habits – had become infamous in Germany, where many people pay Church tax to the state. The tax raised 5.2 billion euros for Catholics and 4.6 billion euros for Protestants in 2012.
Calls were made for the bishop to resign after he was accused of lying under oath about his spending.
The bishop was criticized for a first-class flight to India to visit the poor.
But his official residence is at the heart of the criticism, after renovations were originally costed at 5.5 million euros.
German media are reporting that the residence was fitted with a bath that cost 15,000 euros, a conference table for 25,000 euros and a private chapel that cost 2.9 million euros.
The story has attracted heavy coverage and has stoked controversy among Catholics.
It was in Germany that Martin Luther launched the Reformation five centuries ago in response to what he said were excesses and abuses within the Church.
All this was bound to play badly with the new Pope, who has repeatedly expressed his disapproval of senior clerics whose lifestyles seem a little too lavish.
Pope Francis has also signaled his intention to clean up the Vatican’s finances, appointing a commission to advise him on reforms.
There is no surprise in Rome that the Vatican has ordered the bishop’s suspension from his duties while the spending row is investigated, our correspondent adds.
Steffen Seibert, a spokesman for German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is the daughter of a Protestant pastor, said that she had expressed “hope that there will be an answer for believers, for people’s confidence in their Church”.
In Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst’s absence, the bishop’s diocese will be administered by Limburg’s vicar general, Wolfgang Roesch.
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Pope Emeritus Benedict has returned to the Vatican, two months after becoming the first pontiff to resign in 600 years.
The former pope was flown by helicopter from the Castel Gandolfo papal summer residence to live permanently in Vatican City.
Greeted by Pope Francis as he arrived, Benedict was driven the short distance to his new accommodation.
Ex-Pope Benedict, 86, was last seen in public on March 23 and there has been speculation about his health.
Observers said at the time he appeared more frail than when he stepped down on February 28.
However, Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi said this week that Emeritus Pope Benedict was not ill.
Pope Emeritus Benedict has returned to the Vatican, two months after becoming the first pontiff to resign in 600 years
Hours after his arrival, the Vatican issued a photograph of Benedict shaking hands with Pope Francis. However, unlike his departure from the Vatican, there was no live TV coverage of his return.
Benedict will live in the converted Mater Ecclesiae convent just behind St Peter’s Basilica, with his personal secretary, Georg Gaenswein.
The building, described as “small but well equipped” by Federico Lombardi, includes an attached chapel, a library and a study.
There is also a guest room available for when his older brother, Georg Ratzinger, visits.
The Vatican said Pope Francis welcomed Benedict “with great and fraternal cordiality”.
The two then held a “brief moment of prayer” in Benedict’s chapel.
Benedict will now dedicate himself to a life of private prayer in the service of the Church, according to the Vatican.
His arrival heralds an unprecedented era of a former pope living close to his successor at the Vatican.
But at the time of his abdication, Benedict suggested he would not try influence his successor, saying he would live out the rest of his days “hidden from the world”.
At a meeting in March with Pope Francis, he also repeated “unconditional reverence and obedience” to his successor.
When he resigned, Pope Benedict cited his advanced age as the reason, saying he no longer had the strength for “an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry”.
Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation today is forcing the Vatican to consider some unusual questions.
Here are 10 answers:
1. Name and title. He will be known as Pope emeritus, or Roman pontiff emeritus, the Vatican announced on Tuesday. He will also continue to be known by his papal title of Benedict XVI, rather than reverting to Joseph Ratzinger, and he will continue to be addressed as “Your Holiness” Benedict XVI – in the same way, for example, as US presidents continue to be referred to as “president” after leaving office. “Emeritus” is a Latin word meaning “retired”, from the verb “emereri” – to earn one’s discharge by service.
2. New home. Benedict XVI will leave the Vatican by helicopter before he resigns at 20:00 on Thursday, but he will return in about three months to a new residence – a former convent known as Mater Ecclesiae – in the south-west corner of Vatican City. Reports suggest Vatican gardeners will continue to cultivate a 500 sq m organic fruit and vegetable garden there – the Pope is said to enjoy marmalade made from its oranges. Meanwhile – as Mater Ecclesiae is refurbished – he will stay in the papal residence at Castel Gandolfo, south of Rome.
3. His clothing. The Pope emeritus will continue to wear papal white – rather than the black of an ordinary priest, or the red of a cardinal. However it will be a simple cassock, with none of the flamboyant hats and vestments he revived during his papacy (prompting the Wall Street Journal to ask “Does the Pope Wear Prada?”) He will be giving up his trademark red shoes, wearing instead brown shoes handmade for him by Mexican craftsmen during a visit to the country last year.
4. His ring The papal gold ring, known as the fisherman’s ring, will be smashed with a specially designed silver hammer when the Pope leaves office. No change here from normal practice. “Objects strictly tied to the ministry of St Peter must be destroyed,” the Vatican says. His personal seal will also be defaced.
Pope Benedict XVI’s resigned starting with February 28
5. His duties. Benedict XVI will have no further administrative or official duties. He will not participate in the conclave to elect his successor (nor will any cardinal over the age of 80), though, since he appointed 67 of the 115 men who will take part in the conclave, his influence will be felt. Senior Catholics have also been re-reading speeches made by Benedict XVI before of his retirement for any hints about the qualities he believes his successor will require.
6. Life in retirement. Announcing his resignation, the Pope said he would spend his time praying for the Church. His elder brother, Monsignor Georg Ratzinger, has also said Benedict would be happy to advise his successor, if required. Writing and studying also seems likely to be on the agenda – Benedict had a library of 20,000 books installed in the papal apartments when he was elected in 2005. He also enjoys playing the piano and watching old black-and-white comedies – and he loves cats. At least one, Contessina, is known to live at Mater Ecclesiae.
7. Social media. The Pope’s Twitter accounts (@Pontifex and its eight different language versions) will go into hibernation when Benedict XVI steps down. He is expected to utter his final tweets along with his final general audience on Wednesday and before he departs the Vatican on Thursday – saying goodbye to the 2.5 million followers he has gained since opening his account late last year. Whether he will take the papal iPad on the helicopter is an open question. During the “interregnum” – the period between two popes – Vatican updates will be distributed from the Secretariat of State’s account @TerzaLoggia.
8. Golden parachute. Modest as Benedict XVI’s retirement plans may be, as a bishop he will retain the Vatican’s generous private healthcare policy and is likely to have recourse to the doctors who currently manage his medical treatment. It’s possible he will continue to be cared for by the small group of German nuns who have looked after him during his papacy. As a pope has not retired for 600 years, there’s no precedent for a papal pension plan, but Canon law requires each diocese to look after the welfare of retiring clerics. Rome will doubtless take good care of its Pope emeritus.
9. Georg Ganswein. Benedict XVI’s personal secretary, Archbishop Georg Ganswein – the photogenic face seen in the background of a million photographs – will stay in this post. However, he will also keep up his role as head of the papal household for Benedict’s successor. He will be the servant of two masters.
10. Infallibility. It’s a widely held misconception the Pope is infallible in everything he says and does. In fact, the First Vatican Council of 1870 ruled a Pope’s rulings are infallible only when they are made “ex-cathedra” – as part of a doctrinal statement about the Church. Benedict XVI never invoked this privilege (and in fact only one infallible statement has been made since 1870). When he resigns as Pope he will no longer be able to make ex-cathedra statements.
Pope Benedict XVI has officially resigned today, saying that he now “will simply be a pilgrim” starting his last journey on earth.
The pontiff, aged 86, was earlier flown by helicopter from the Vatican to his retreat at Castel Gandolfo, near Rome.
His deputy, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, is now in charge of the world’s 1.2 billion Roman Catholics until a new pope is elected next month.
Benedict vowed “unconditional obedience and reverence” to his successor.
He stepped down after nearly eight years in office – the first pontiff to do so in 600 years.
Benedict officially ceased to be the Pope at 20:00 local time.
The resignation was marked by the papal Swiss Guards stepping down from their posts at Castel Gandolfo to return to the Vatican. The protection of Benedict was taken over by Italian police.
In his retirement, Benedict will wear a simple white cassock rather than his papal clothes, and swap his famous red shoes – the color is symbolic of the blood of the early Christian martyrs – for brown.
His “Fisherman’s Ring”, the special signet ring which contains the Pope’s name and is impressed to validate certain official documents, is expected to be destroyed along with the lead seal of the pontificate.
The German pontiff, who was born Joseph Ratzinger, will continue to be known as Benedict XVI, with the new title of “pope emeritus”.
The long-time theologian is expected eventually to retire to a monastery on a hill inside Vatican City, with officials saying he will not be able intervene publicly in the papacy of his
successor, though he may offer advice.
Pope Benedict XVI has officially resigned today, saying that he now “will simply be a pilgrim” starting his last journey on earth
The conclave of 115 cardinals is expected to meet at the Vatican on Monday morning to start planning the election of the next pope.
Earlier on Thursday, bells of St Peter’s rang across the Vatican as Benedict boarded the helicopter for a short flight to Castel Gandolfo.
Before that, the pontiff was greeted for the last time by top officials in the Curia – the administrative body that runs the Holy See.
Benedict then appeared at a window overlooking the public square in Castel Gandolfo to bless a cheering crowd.
“Thank you very much for your friendship,” Benedict said.
“I will simply be a pilgrim who is starting the last phase of his pilgrimage on this earth.
“Let’s go forward with God for the good of the Church and the world.”
Some in the crowd were in tears listening to what could be Benedict’s final public words as pope.
In his final tweet, Benedict wrote: “Thank you for your love and support. May you always experience the joy that comes from putting Christ at the centre of your lives.”
The Vatican now enters the Sede Vacante – or period of transition between two pontificates.
Benedict’s successor must focus on reforming the Vatican bureaucracy which has often been overly hesitant to react to the various crises which have arisen during Benedict’s papacy.
On Thursday morning, the Pope received the cardinals at the Vatican’s Clementine Hall, warmly embracing Cardinal Angelo Sodano, who passed on best wishes on behalf of those gathered.
“Among you there is also the future pope to whom I promise my unconditional obedience and reverence,” the pontiff said.
“The Church is a living being,” he added, but it “also remains always the same”.
In his public farewell speech on Wednesday, Benedict hinted at Vatican infighting.
His decision to resign has been openly criticized by Australia’s top Catholic, Cardinal George Pell, who questioned his leadership skills.
The Church has been beset by scandals over sexual abuse by priests and leaked confidential documents revealing internal corruption and feuding.
An estimated 150,000 people packed into St Peter’s Square on Wednesday to hear Benedict speak in his last address there.
Claudio Sciarpelletti, a computer technician, has gone on trial in the Vatican City charged with aiding and abetting Pope’s former butler, Paolo Gabriele, in stealing papal documents.
Claudio Sciarpelletti has been accused of helping Paolo Gabriele leak the confidential documents while working in the Vatican’s Secretariat of State.
His lawyer argued that his client has no case to answer and the trial should be dropped.
Paolo Gabriele was given an 18-month prison sentence by the same court last month.
He admitted passing documents to a journalist, but said he did it out of love for the church and the Pope.
Paolo Gabriele is serving his sentence in a special detention room inside the Vatican’s police station, amid talk that he may be pardoned by Pope Benedict XVI.
Claudio Sciarpelletti, 48, handled secret communications in the Vatican’s Secretariat of State, the nerve centre of the Roman Catholic church.
His lawyer said an anonymous tip-off led Vatican police to search Claudio Sciarpelletti’s desk last May – finding an envelope addressed to Paolo Gabriele containing copies of sensitive documentation that had been leaked to the Italian media.
Claudio Sciarpelletti has been accused of helping Paolo Gabriele leak the confidential documents while working in the Vatican’s Secretariat of State
During his brief arrest, he is said to have given confused and contradictory explanations to investigators.
Defence lawyer Gianluca Benedetti denied the claims that the former butler and Claudio Sciarpelletti had been good friends, and said his client had been in an “emotional state” in his interviews with investigators.
The Vatican has since said he played a “marginal” role in the scandal.
Senior Vatican communications officer, Greg Burke, said that although Claudio Sciarpelletti was being charged with aiding and abetting Paolo Gabriele, it was “more like an obstruction charge” relating to his contradictory testimony, the Associated Press reports.
However, the judge refused Gianluca Benedetti’s request to drop the trial, and said the next hearing would be scheduled for Saturday. Analysts say his trial is likely to be shorter than Paolo Gabriele’s which lasted for a week.
Interest in the case centres on who the witnesses called to give evidence may be, correspondents say. A senior cleric and two top Vatican security officials are expected to be called, as well as Paolo Gabriele himself.
It is thought the trial may shine a light on the extent to which other Vatican employees, including clerics, may have been involved.
Much of the stolen information ended up in a best-selling book by journalist Gianluigi Nuzzi about corruption, scandals and infighting at the Vatican.
Paolo Gabriele confessed to taking the papers, but said he believed the Pope was being manipulated, and that he hoped to reveal alleged corruption at the Vatican.
The Vatican authorities have limited press access to Claudio Sciarpelletti’s trial and no TV cameras were allowed in court.
Marcello Di Finizio has scaled the dome of St Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican City, in an apparent protest against EU measures he alleges penalize small businesses.
He is standing on one of the many ornate window ledges of the dome.
A large fabric banner hangs beneath him reading, “Help! Enough Monti. Enough Europe. Enough multinationals!”
Marcello Di Finizio, a beach bar owner, staged a similar protest in July against an EU directive that will see parts of the seafront auctioned off.
Firefighters have been pacing a walkway which circles the cupola on the top of the dome.
On the square below, Pope Benedict XVI held a service on Wednesday morning.
Marcello Di Finizio started to scale the dome, an iconic feature of one of Catholicism’s most revered churches, on Tuesday afternoon.
According to one of his friends, he is angry about an EU directive, backed by the Italian government, which will reform rules for auctioning licenses to operate patches of Italy’s seafront. He argues the measure will favor big multinationals.
A telephone call to Italian ministers on Tuesday failed to persuade him to climb down.
Marcello Di Finizio rents out parasols and sun loungers to sun bathers.
In August beach operators protested against the measures by keeping parasols closed along large stretches on Italy’s coastline.
The operators have said the new rules threaten the jobs of some 600,000 resort workers.
The directive is due to come into effect in Italy from 2016.
Paolo Gabriele, Pope Benedict’s former butler, who is on trial inside the Vatican, has denied charges of stealing confidential documents from the pontiff’s private apartment.
Paolo Gabriele, 46, pleaded not guilty to charges of aggravated theft but said he had abused the Pope’s trust.
He said he believed the pontiff was being manipulated, and that he acted alone in copying the sensitive papers.
The files, which revealed allegations of corruption and infighting at the Vatican, were leaked to the media.
Paolo Gabriele was being questioned in court by the president of the Vatican City tribunal. He faces up to four years in prison if convicted, but he could be pardoned by Pope Benedict XVI.
The butler admitted to the court that he was photocopying documents in the Pope’s apartment, but said he did not regard this as a crime.
There has been speculation that the butler had accomplices as he set about leaking the Vatican’s secrets.
But he insisted in court that he had acted alone, adding that he had “many contacts” in the Vatican where he said there was “widespread unease”.
Paolo Gabriele also complained of the conditions he endured for weeks in a tiny Vatican cell after his arrest. He said it was so small that he could not extend his arms, and the light was kept on 24 hours a day.
The judges have ordered an inquiry into Paolo Gabriele’s allegations. However, the Vatican said conditions inside the Vatican police’s security room respected minimum international standards.
This is the second day of the trial. It was adjourned last week after Vatican judges refused to admit evidence gathered by cardinals.
Instead, the judges in the high-profile trial said they would rely only on evidence from the Vatican police and prosecutor. They seized 82 boxes of papers from Paolo Gabriele’s home.
The Pope’s private secretary, Georg Gaenswein, and one of the four German and Italian nuns who work in the 85-year-old pontiff’s household are also expected to testify.
Correspondents say their testimony could shed light on the very private world of the household.
The chief judge said the court hoped to reach a verdict by the end of the week.
No TV cameras or recorders are being allowed inside the courtroom for the most high-profile case to be held in the Vatican since it was established as a sovereign state in 1929. Coverage of the trial is restricted to just eight journalists.
Paolo Gabriele was identified as the source of leaked documents that were published in a book by an Italian journalist, Gianluigi Nuzzi, in May.
The documents included private correspondence between senior Vatican figures, and appeared to reveal bitter power struggles and corruption.
Correspondents say the revelations seem aimed primarily at discrediting the Vatican’s powerful Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, who has been in his post since 2006.
The Pope ordered cardinals to carry out an inquiry separate to the probe by Vatican police after the scandal broke. The results of their investigation have not been made public.
The court decided that his fellow defendant, Vatican computer technician Claudio Sciarpelletti, will be tried separately for aiding and abetting a crime. He had exerted his right to stay away from the hearing.
Paolo Gabriele was the Pope’s trusted servant for years and held the keys to the papal apartments.
The “Vatileaks” scandal has been one of the most difficult crises of Pope Benedict’s seven-year papacy, correspondents say.
Paolo Gabriele, Pope Benedict XVI’s former butler, is set to go on trial in the Vatican on charges of aggravated theft.
Paolo Gabriele, 46, has admitted taking confidential documents and leaking them to the Italian media – although no guilty plea has been entered.
He has told investigators that he was hoping to expose “evil and corruption” within the Church.
While technically he faces up to four years in prison if found guilty, Paolo Gabriele could be pardoned by the Pope.
If he is jailed, he will serve his sentence in an Italian prison as Vatican City has no long-term detention facilities on its territory.
Paolo Gabriele, Pope Benedict XVI’s former butler, is set to go on trial in the Vatican on charges of aggravated theft
Paolo Gabriele is standing trial along with Vatican computer technician Claudio Sciarpelletti, who is accused of aiding and abetting a crime.
He was the Pope’s trusted servant for years and held the keys to the papal apartments.
Many of the letters and other documents he took from the pontiff’s desk were published in a book by an Italian investigative journalist in May.
The so-called “Vatileaks” scandal has sparked allegations of corruption and internal conflicts at the Holy See.
It has been one of the most difficult crises of Pope Benedict’s seven-year papacy.
No TV cameras or recorders are being allowed inside the courtroom for the most high-profile case to be held in the Vatican since the Holy See was established as a sovereign state in 1929.
The Vatican was arrested in May, accused of passing papal correspondence to journalist Gianluigi Nuzzi, whose book His Holiness: The secret papers of Pope Benedict XVI was published that month.
Some of the most sensational letters were written to the Pope by Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, currently the Vatican’s ambassador to Washington, who was deputy governor of Vatican City at the time.
In one letter, Archbishop Vigano complains that when he took office in 2009, he discovered corruption, nepotism and cronyism linked to the awarding of contracts to outside companies at inflated prices.
He later writes about a smear campaign against him by other Vatican officials upset at his actions to clean up purchasing procedures.
The archbishop begs in vain not to be moved away from the Vatican as a punishment for exposing the alleged corruption.
Correspondents say the revelations seem aimed primarily at discrediting the Vatican’s powerful Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, who has been in his post since 2006.
Prosecutors quoted Paolo Gabriele as saying during his interrogation that he knew taking the documents was wrong but he felt the Holy Spirit was inspiring him to shed light on the problems he saw around him.
He said he felt the Pope was being kept in the dark or misinformed by his collaborators.
“Seeing evil and corruption everywhere in the Church… I was sure that a shock, even a media one, would have been healthy to bring the church back on the right track,” he was quoted as saying in June.
Pope Benedict said after his former butler’s arrest that the news had “brought sadness in my heart”.
Psychologists were summoned by the Vatican to determine whether Paolo Gabriele could be held responsible for his actions.
The results were conflicting.
One report concluded that while he could be held accountable for his actions, he was socially dangerous, easily influenced and could “commit acts that could endanger himself or others”.
This report described Paolo Gabriele as subject to ideas of “grandiosity”, as attention-seeking and as a simple man with a “fragile personality with paranoid tendencies covering profound personal insecurity”.
Another report cited in the indictment concluded that the defendant, a 46-year-old father of three, had shown no signs of major psychological disorder or of being dangerous.
Paolo Gabriele, Pope Benedict’s butler, has been formally named as a suspect in the Vatican’s inquiry into a series of media leaks from the Church’s highest levels.
Vatican magistrates accused Paolo Gabriele, 46, of illegal possession of confidential documents.
A series of leaks, dubbed Vatileaks, has revealed alleged corruption, mismanagement and internal conflicts.
Last month, Pope Benedict XVI set up a special commission of cardinals to find the source.
Paolo Gabriele is the pope’s personal butler and assistant and one of very few laymen to have access to the Pope’s private apartments.
He lives with his wife and three children in an apartment within the Vatican walls, where Italian media report that a stash of confidential documents had been discovered.
“I confirm that the person detained on Wednesday for illegal possession of private documents is Mr. Paolo Gabriele, who remains in detention,” the spokesman for the Holy See, Father Federico Lombardi said, according to Italy’s state broadcaster, Rai.
Paolo Gabriele, Pope Benedict's butler, has been formally named as a suspect in the Vatican's inquiry into a series of media leaks from the Church's highest levels
Father Federico Lombardi added that now the initial stage of the process was complete, Paolo Gabriele had nominated two lawyers capable of representing him at a Vatican Tribunal, and had met with them.
He would, the Vatican spokesman added, have “all the juridical guarantees foreseen by the criminal code of the State of Vatican City”.
As the Vatican has no jail, Paolo Gabriele is being held in one of the three so-called “secure rooms” in the offices of the Vatican’s tiny police force inside the walled city-state, Reuters reports.
If convicted, Paolo Gabriele could face a sentence of up to 30 years for illegal possession of documents of a head of state, probably to be served in an Italian prison due to an agreement between Italy and the Vatican, Italian media report.
The Vatileaks scandal has filled Italian media – dominating the columns of Italian newspapers and filling TV programmes and magazines.
The detention comes during one of the most tumultuous weeks in recent history for the Vatican.
Last week a book, entitled His Holiness, was published by an Italian journalist with reproductions of confidential letters and memos between the pope and his personal secretary.
The Vatican called the book “criminal” and vowed to take legal action against the author, publisher, and whoever leaked the documents.
Last Thursday, the president of the Vatican bank – Ettore Gotti Tedeschi – was ousted by the bank’s board.
Sources close to the investigation said he too had been found to have leaked documents, though the official reason for his departure was that he had failed to do his job.
Ettore Gotti Tedeschi himself said the move had been a punishment for his attempt to make the bank more open.
The leak of a string of highly sensitive internal documents from inside the Vatican’s Secretariat of State, including personal letters to Pope Benedict XVI, has been an evident embarrassment to the Pope, prompting the rare investigation.
The leaked documents include a letter to Pope Benedict XVI by the Vatican’s current ambassador to Washington alleging cronyism, nepotism and corruption among the administrators of Vatican City.
Others concern “poison pen” memos criticizing Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the pope’s number two, and the reporting of suspicious payments by the Vatican Bank.
It looks like Sylvester Stallone is a few centuries old as he was recently spotted in a 16th century painting at Vatican City.
Raphael’s 1511 painting depicts Pope Gregory IX, but in the background, you can see Sylvester Stallone look alike peaking over the Pope’s shoulder.
Harvard student Anthony Zonfrell saw the painting and posted a picture to Reddit where it quickly gained more than 700,000 views.
Raphael’s 1511 painting depicts Pope Gregory IX, but in the background, you can see Sylvester Stallone look alike peaking over the Pope’s shoulder
Anthony Zonfrell said: “My cousin had told us about how she had seen it when she went, so we were on the lookout. As soon as we saw the painting, we knew it was him. My whole family thought it was hilarious. It could actually be a portrait of Stallone. I posted it at night, and when I woke up it was on the front page. I was shocked at the response it got, it really blew up quite fast. All of the comments were hilarious.”