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The Vatileaks trial begins

Will more monsignori be implicated?

  • Alessandro Speciale, Vatican City
  • Vatican City
  • October 1, 2012
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The Vatican is once again uncomfortably in the global spotlight as the trial of Paolo Gabriele, Pope Benedict's former butler, has opened in a tiny courtroom in the world's smallest state.

The trial, which began on Saturday, provides an opportunity to prove that the Vatican State is in fact ruled by the law – a point one of its judges, Giovanni Giacobbe, insisted on, as he illustrated the state's legal system and its “complete separateness” from the Holy See, or the global governing body of the Catholic Church.

The Pope's entourage is keenly aware of the risk that this unprecedented trial – which will be avidly followed by hundreds of journalists and television reporters from all over the world, despite the attempts of the Vatican press office to keep the event as low key as humanly possible – will downgrade a barrage of Catholic “big events” in the next few weeks, from the opening of the Year of Faith to the Synod of Bishops on New Evangelization and the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council, to a mere sideshow.

And in fact, it’s a fairly safe bet that the trial itself will be a fairly quick affair.

The Vatican legal system doesn't require all witnesses to be cross-examined in the courtroom; what they said to investigators in the past months is considered admissible.

And few think that Gabriele's lawyer – a not particularly well-known attorney by the name of Cristiana Arru – will fight very hard to avoid a conviction that, given his client's repeated confession, is a given.

More interestingly, the trial might offer some glimpse into the real motives of the butler's actions – did he really feel himself as an “infiltrator” of the Holy Spirit on a mission to root out “evil” and “corruption” in the Church with the media's help? – or reveal if someone else cooperated with him in leaking the documents.

The indictment compiled by prosecutors ahead of the trial hints at that. And gossip around the Vatican is rife with speculations on just who those accomplices might be. Logic dictates that some of them could definitely be monsignori, and it will be a test of the Vatican's resolve to see just how they are treated. So far, in fact, the Vatileaks case has implicated only two lay people.

All in all, it will be a fun ride. I look forward to telling you about it.

Alessandro Speciale writes for ucanews.com and other news sources on Vatican affairs
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