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Vatileaks trial left many more questions than answers

Concluded with remarkable haste, the trial of Paolo Gabriele left several important areas unexplored.

  • Nick Squires
  • Vatican City
  • October 8, 2012
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Pope Benedict XVI opened a crucial meeting of bishops from around the world on Sunday, just 24 hours after his butler was given an 18 month prison sentence for stealing confidential papers from the Vatican.

Many Vatican observers said it was no coincidence that the trial of Paolo Gabriele, one of the biggest scandals to hit the Holy See for years, was brought to a neat conclusion the day before the start of the three week long synod.

Senior Vatican figures were anxious that the trial, which consisted of just four hearings lasting less than 10 hours, be dealt with quickly so that the Pope can concentrate on the synod and the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council, which reformed key aspects of the Roman Catholic Church.

But the many lingering questions over the murky affair could yet tarnish the conference, in which Catholic leaders will discuss how to "re-evangelise" the West in the face of secularism and a sharp decline in church attendance.

One Italian newspaper, Corriere della Sera, published a list of 10 unanswered questions regarding the butler's theft and leaking of compromising documents, including whether the butler had done a deal with the Vatican not to speak freely about the scandal in return for a lenient sentence.

The fact that the father-of-three started stealing papal documents as far back as 2006 but only began to leak them in the last year was also odd, unless he had been awaiting instructions from someone complicit in the plot, the paper said.

The trial failed to delve into his true motives for stealing the documents, some of which were so sensitive that the 85-year-old Pope had personally marked them "to be destroyed", and the issue of whether he had accomplices or at least sympathisers.

In an anonymous television interview before his arrest in May he said "about 20" people in the Vatican were involved in his crusade to root out "evil and corruption" at the heart of the Church.

During his trial he told the panel of three Vatican judges: "It was not just me, in these past years, who gave documents to the media."

John L. Allen, a Vatican analyst and senior correspondent for the National Catholic Reporter in the US, told The Daily Telegraph: "It's abundantly clear that they wanted to get the trial out of the way before the start of the synod."

"All kinds of questions remain. Gabriele said in his testimony that he had contact with senior people in the Vatican, but we don't know whether they approved of his actions or helped him.

"He also said he acted because he felt the Pope was not fully informed of problems in the Vatican. Is that true, were people withholding information? We don't know."

Full Story: Pope Benedict XVI opens convention of bishops in wake of Vatileaks trial

Source: Telegraph
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