Pope's butler, 2nd layman face trial in theft case

By Frances D'emilio

Associated Press

Published: Monday, Aug. 13 2012 12:00 a.m. MDT

In his request for an indictment, prosecutor Nicola Picardi quoted the butler as saying in one of his interrogations, in early June, while under arrest that "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."

Gabriele spent several weeks in isolation in a Vatican security cell before being placed under house arrest over the summer. Lombardi said a criminal sentence would depend "on any possible pardon" from the pope, but added that "it's premature to speak of this now."

Sciarpelletti's office was searched on May 24, hours after Gabriele's arrest. He was arrested and spent one night in a Vatican security cell, but was quickly released when it appeared clear that his role wasn't a key one in the case, Lombardi said. The Vatican had steadfastly insisted the only known suspect was Gabriele.

"You can't speak of an accomplice in any way, but he was an acquaintance who could help Gabriele" in the butler's activities, Lombardi said. The indictment noted that in Sciarpelletti's desk was found a plain white envelope, sealed, with "Personal P. Gabriele" on the front and with the Secretariat of State's stamp on the back.

Sciarpelletti has been suspended, with pay, from his job, the spokesman said.

Federico Lombardi indicated the probe was only "partially completed," leaving open the possibility that there could still be more developments.

Benedict reviewed the indictment and other documents in the probe, and Lombardi added that the pope could intervene in the case, but noted he hasn't done so to date.

The indictment quoted Gabriele as saying he made photocopies of the documents he gave to the Italian author Gianluigi Nuzzi and gave the copies to his "spiritual father," or private confessor. Lombardi said the priest, who is identified only as "B'' by the prosecutor, burned those copies.

Gabriele was also found to be in possession of a rare, 16th-century edition of Virgil's Aeneid, but defended himself saying that he had asked the pope's private secretary permission to bring it home so he could show it to his son's school professor.

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