VATICAN CITY - Reuters
Paolo Gabriele (bottom) arrives with Pope Benedict XVI at St. Peter’s Square. REUTERS photo
Paolo Gabriele, the papal butler held on suspicion of leaking documents alleging corruption in the Vatican, was driven by a desire to help the pope, his lawyer said on Saturday, adding that his ultimate aim may have been to clean up the Church.
The lawyer, Carlo Fusco, told a news conference that Gabriele had acted alone in the so-called “Vatileaks” scandal and was not part of any wider plot, saying he expected a Vatican magistrate to order a trial for him soon.
The 46-year-old butler’s arrest on May 23 caused an international furor, after police found confidential documents in his apartment inside the Vatican, a dramatic twist that threw the global media spotlight on an institution battling to defend its reputation from allegations of graft.
“The motivations that prompted him to do certain things are all of an interior nature. There were no external motives,” Fusco said after assisting Gabriele in an interrogation that lasted seven hours.
Asked by a reporter
if Gabriele’s motive could have been to “help the pope clean up the Church”, Fusco said: “That would be one way of interpreting it.”
Fusco said Gabriele, who is being investigated for aggravated theft and faces up to six years in
jail if found guilty, was “moved by the desire to do something that could be an act of help, an act of love, towards the pope.”
“Obviously the way in which each person expresses (such desires) are subjective and are debatable,” Fusco added. Gabriele has been held in a small “safe room” inside the Vatican police station for the past two months, but on Saturday a decision was made to allow him to return to his flat under house arrest.
Gabriele is widely expected to ask the pope, who is the sovereign of Vatican City, for a pardon. If it is not granted, he would serve his term in an Italian jail according to bilateral agreements between the Vatican and Italy. “The Holy Father will make the decision he deems opportune,” Fusco said, referring to a possible request for a pardon.