The Vatican court which found papal butler Paolo Gabriele guilty of stealing sensitive papal documents on October 23 released the reasons for its decision.
Meanwhile, a second trial in the “Vatileaks” case, this time of a Vatican computer technician, is scheduled to begin on November 5.
Now we know the reasoning of the Vatican’s judges in the ongoing “Vatileaks” case. The three-judge Vatican tribunal that convicted the Pope’s former butler of stealing sensitive papal documents today issued its written explanation of how it reached its October 6 verdict against Paolo Gabriele.
It said Gabriele’s crime was a “reprehensible” violation of trust that damaged the Pope himself and the rights of the Holy See, of the Vatican City State, and of the entire Catholic Church.
Noting what they termed Gabriele’s “simplistic” intellectual capacity, the judges agreed that Gabriele did think he was doing the right thing by leaking the documents.
Gabriele admitted during his trial three weeks ago that, while working closely with Pope Benedict and his two personal secretaries, he had photocopied documents, then given them to an Italian journalist for publication. His reason? Not for money, he testified, but to somehow bring to Pope Benedict’s attention the “evil and corruption” around him, matters he believed the Pope was not being suffiently informed about.
(During the trial, Gabriele testified that sometimes the Pope, as he ate dinner — Paolo served the Pope his meals, and sometimes actually sat down at table and dined with him — the Pope would express little or no knowledge of certain matters, especially regarding internal Vatican affairs, that Gabriele said he felt the Pope should have been well-informed about…)
Gabriele was convicted of aggravated theft and sentenced to 18 months in prison, currently being served under house arrest (he lives in an apartment inside Vatican City with his wife and three children).
Father Federico Lombardi, head of the Vatican press office, said today that a papal pardon of Gabriele is still a possibility. But a pardon seems less likely now than several weeks ago, when some were expecting the Pope to pardon Gabriele immediately after the verdict and sentencing. That did not happen. So it is possible that he will actually be confined for the next year and half.
And Father Lombardi noted that the investigation into Gabriele remains open and that prosecutors could still charge him with other, different crimes.
The judges in their written explanation said Gabriele betrayed the “good name” of all the people involved in the case, and that secrecy owed to the Pope in his role as a sovereign. Some observers saw this as a hint at the direction Vatican prosecutors may take if they pursue further charges against the former butler.
Gabriele’s attorney has decided not to appeal the verdict or sentence.
Though previously the Vatican had said Gabriele would serve his 18 months in an Italian prison, because the Vatican itself does not have a long-term detention facility, the Vatican today said Gabriele will be kept in a room inside the barracks of the Vatican gendarmes, not in an Italian jail. This seems intended to keep Gabriele from talking to people outside of the Vatican, for example, other prisoners in an Italian prison.
Italian jounalist Gianluigi Nuzzi’s book His Holiness: The Secret Papers of Pope Benedict XVI, published in May, printed more than two dozen of the stolen documents.
“Gabriele was able to commit the crime because of his relationship of service to the Holy Father, which is necessarily based on trust that allowed the Pope to leave in his care documents that he illegally approrpriated,” the judges wrote.
But Nuzzi evidently did not pay Gabriele anything for these secret documents. And this is why the judges, in thie explanation released today, said that, while Gabriele himself may not have profited financially from stealing the documents, he obtained an “intellectual and moral” profit from doing so.
This was an important point. According to the Vatican’s own legal code, it is necessary for some “profit” to be found, some benefit to the alleged thief. If none is found, the alleged “crime” of “aggravated theft” is not a crime at all — according to the letter of the code. Without an actual “profit,” the action of taking the documents would only be something like “inappropriate handling” (not “theft”) of sensitive office correspondence (in this case, taking the documents home to his house). So finding a “profit” was a strict legal necessity to enable the judge to find Gabriele guilty of theft, and the judges used this argument — that he received an “intellectual and moral” profit from the thefts — to fill this legal need.
But this does make it all the clearer that there is no evidence, up until now, that Gabriele received anything whatsoever in terms of monetary compensation for his sharing of these documents.
Of course, an inventory of all the documents Gabriele took has never been made public. Therefore, we do not know if he sold other documents to other “clients”; for example, to other intelligence agencies. Nothing even hinting that has emerged.
But Gabriele took originals and photocopies of “more than a thousand pages” of private letters from the Pope’s apartment, keeping them in his own study at home, and Nuzzi’s book makes use of only a couple dozen documents.
In his home, Gabriele also kept a huge archive of material (“hundreds of thousands” of pages) on matters ranging from Italian freemasonry to Italy’s intelligence services.
Pope Benedict responded to Nuzzi’s book in part by naming a commission of three cardinals — Spaniard Julian Herranz (a member of Opus Dei), Slovak Jozef Tomko, and Italian Salvatore De Giorgi — to investigate the origin of the leaks in a “parallel” inquiry, alongside that of the Vatican judicial system which led to Gabriele’s trial. The results of this special cardinals’ investigation have never been made public. Once, early on, when I asked one of the cardinals what they were discovering, he told me that obviously he could not reveal anything, but that “we are working hard.” So it could be that the Pope has received a detailed report which contains some information different from anything that came out at the public trial.
A second defendant was named in this “Vatileaks” case: Claudio Sciarpelletti, 48, a computer expert in the Vatican’s Secretariat of State. Sciarpelletti was accused of aiding and abetting Gabriele’s crime. He has said through his lawyer that he is innocent.
His trial is due to start November 5, Lombardi said today.
The technician was arrested on May 25 as the Vatican investigation into the leaks unfolded, but was released the following day. He was initially due to stand in the dock with Gabriele in early October, but was granted a separate trial. His alleged role in stealing and leaking the memos is considered “rather marginal” by the judiciary, Lombardi said. His trial is likely to be even shorter than Gabriele’s, the spokesman added.
An envelope containing stolen documents and addressed to Gabriele was found in Sciarpelletti’s desk in the Vatican. He has claimed ignorance, insisting he had forgotten it was there and never opened it. The technician has also admitted, however, that two people gave him envelopes containing documents to pass on to the butler.
The relationship between the two is unclear. While Gabriele insists they were friends, Sciarpelletti says they were nothing more than acquaintances.
The trial could reveal interesting elements regarding five witnesses — or possible accomplices — whose names have been blacked out and replaced with letters of the alphabet in court documents. In the text of their ruling just released, the judges said there was no proof that Gabriele had any accomplices. Still, they noted that investigations are continuing “into the existence of other possible responsibilities in the leaks of reserved documents.” That sounds like it is possible that others could be indicted in this still mysterious case.
Finally, journalists have reported in the Italian press that Vatican police have donloaded photgraphs, videos and voice recordings from Gabriele’s cell phone, and that these recordings include images of the Pope. These reports have not yet been confirmed, but if they are true, we may be dealing with a case, not just of stolen papal documents, but of secretly recorded private meetings and conversations. Stay tuned.
October 17, 2012, Wednesday — Hilarion in Rome
The “foreign minister” of the Russian Orthodox Church, Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev, has been traveling — from Moscow, to Serbia, to Greece, to Mt. Athos, to Rome — and yesterday he met with Pope Benedict XVI
“The crisis which the Western society is undergoing has primarily spiritual roots.” —Metropolitan Hilarion, Russian Orthodox archbishop, speaking yesterday to the Catholic Bishops’ Synod in Rome
A Russian in Rome…
A Russian is in Rome.
And in this case, he is a high-ranking official of the Russian Orthodox Church.
When that happens, one has to pay attention, and keep a watch especially for any sign of “warming” in the relations between the Holy See and the Orthodox of Russia, for such a “warming” could potentially have global significance. And, in this case, since the present Pope is a German, the meeting of two leaders, one from Moscow, one from Rome, also, in a certain way, includes Berlin. Rome-Berlin-Moscow…
Are there signs of “warming”?
When Pope Benedict XVI, 85, met yesterday with Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev, 46, head of the Russian Orthodox Church’s Department for External Church Relations, the meeting (as one can see from the photo above) was cordial.
The two discussed common challenges: the growing secularization of the “post-Christian” West; ecumenical initiatives (possibly connected with a commemoration of the 1,700th anniversary of the Emperor Constantine’s Edict of Milan in 313 A.D., next year in 2013, a subject Hilarion has had much to say about recently); and a recent landmark agreement between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church in Poland — old antagonists who are now, tentatively, seeking new ways to work together.
The Pope’s meeting with Hilarion came just after the Russian Orthodox archbishop delivered an address to the Synod of Bishops meeting in the Vatican to discuss the “new evangelization” needed to preach Gospel again to a part of the world that seems to have abandoned a faith it once cherished: the West.
Below we have the text of Hilarion’s address to the Catholic bishops, and, at the end, his recent address on Constantine’s edict, as well as some small reports on his travels.
Here are a few words from the archbishop on his meeting with the Pope…
Speaking with Vatican Radio’s Philippa Hitchen (who in the past wrote for Inside the Vatican magazine), Metropolitan Hilarion, also himself an old friend of the magazine (we helped him to organize concerts of music he composed in Rome in March 2007, and in Washington D.C., New York, and Boston, in December 2007) shared details of his conversation with the Pope.
“His Holiness was curious about what is happening in Russia,” Hilarion said. “He posed many questions about the teaching of religion in schools and the opening of theology faculties in some secular universities. I shared with him information about the life of the Russian Orthodox Church and the new evangelization we are practicing in the Russian Federation.
“We also spoke about the persecution of Christians in the Middle East and other parts of the world,” Hilarion continued. “And we also talked about the development of relations between Catholics and Orthodox, in particular the development of theological exchanges, because, since my last meeting with the Pope, I have also been appointed chairman of the (Russian Orthodox Church) Synod’s Biblical and Theological Commission.”
One “take-away” from these remarks is that “Rome” and “Moscow” (the “third Rome”) may be ready to act jointly to defend Christians suffering from persecution in the Middle East.
Since Russia has a long-time, deep-rooted interest in Syria, and in other parts of the Middle East where there are large Orthodox populations, this is a signal that bears watching.
Note how, in the text below, Hilarion speaks to the Catholics about “combining our efforts.”
And note that he says: “We are deeply concerned about the humanitarian catastrophe which is unfolding in Syria“…
(I have added the italics in the texts below to highlight these passages.)
If you would like to go with Inside the Vatican on a pilgrimage, please contact us at the link below.
Metropolitan Hilarion’s greeting to the Synod of Bishops of the Roman Catholic Church Rome, October 16, 2012
Your Eminences and Excellencies:
May I address you on behalf of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia and the Russian Orthodox Church with apostolic greeting: ‘Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ’ (2 Thess 1:2).
The present Synod of Bishops of the Roman Catholic Church is timed to the remarkable date – the 50th anniversary of the beginning of the Second Vatican Council, and is dedicated to a theme relevant to all Christians – bringing the message of Christ to the secular world.
Half a century ago the fathers of the Council were convinced that closer cooperation amongst Christians of different traditions would make witness to Christ more convincing.
The Second Vatican Council made a substantial contribution to the development of inter-Christian dialogue and indeed laid the foundation of official relations between the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Churches. Our presence at the Synod of Bishops of the Roman Catholic Church bears witness to it.
Today we are called to think about solving our common tasks that the present epoch puts forward.
The unrestrained pursuit of pleasure and the lust for irresponsible enrichment at the expense of the poor sections of the population were characteristic of the developed societies of Europe and America in recent decades.
Individualism and egoism have brought about crisis not only in human and social relations, but also in politics and economics.
The crisis which the Western society is undergoing has primarily spiritual roots. Secular society without God naively believes that while exploiting only their own proprietary and consumer instincts it would be able to successfully regulate the growth of well-being, thus achieving prosperity and justice.
However, the tragic experience of the entire 20th century has vividly shown that the renunciation of God and His commandments does not lead people to happiness, but, on the contrary, brings about numerous disasters and sufferings. The present crisis, which has affected many countries of the world, shows that the secular society has chosen an erroneous way of development.
Both the Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church fulfill the mission to which they have been called by Christ and tirelessly bring witness of the truth, while “proving the world wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment” (Jn 16:8).
In this ministry, our Churches become even more conscious of the necessity of combining our efforts so that the Christian answer to the challenges of the modern society can be heard.
In recent years, the Orthodox and Catholic Churches have fruitfully cooperated within the Orthodox-Catholic forum, in different international organizations and at other places of dialogue with the secular world. Yet, I believe, we could and should do much more to respond together to new challenges and threats.
I would like to use this opportunity to call my brothers in the Catholic Church to create a common front in order to defend Christianity in all those countries where it is being marginalized or persecuted. In Europe and America we witness growing pressure from those representatives of militant secularism and atheism who attempt to expel Christianity from the public square, to ban Christian symbols, to destroy traditional Christian understanding of the family, of marriage as a union between a man and a woman, of the value of human life from inception till natural death.
In some other parts of the globe, the very existence of Christian Churches is under threat. In the countries where the so-called “Arab spring” is underway, millions of Christians suffer from severe persecution. Many have fled from the places where they had lived for centuries.
In Iraq, where 1.5 million Christians lived just a few years ago, only 150,000 remain, while all the others were either exterminated or expelled.
Grave persecutions of Christians are going on in Egypt, Lybia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nigeria, India, Indonesia and many other countries, both in the Middle East and elsewhere.
We are deeply concerned about the humanitarian catastrophe which is unfolding in Syria, where militant Islamists are seeking political power with the help of some Western countries. Wherever they come to power, Christians are being persecuted or exterminated.
Christian communities in Syria and other countries of the Middle East are crying for help, while the mass media in the West largerly ignore their cries and the politicians prefer to close their eyes on this unprecedented wave of persecution.
We, Orthodox and Catholics from all over the world, should raise our voice in defense of Christian population and Christian heritage of the Middle East.
We must constantly bring the attention of political leaders, of international organizations and of the mass media to this unfolding human tragedy.
Only if we join our forces shall we be able to protect our Christian faith, to overcome present crisis and to give new impetus to our common mission of the new evangelization, ‘so that the world may believe’ (Jn 17:21).
I wish you peace, God’s blessing and success in your work!
DECR chairman begins his visit to Rome
On the evening of 15 October 2012, Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate’s Department for External Church Relations (DECR), arrived in Rome for an official visit.
He was met at the Champion airport by H.E. Nikolai Sadchikov, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Russian Federation to the Holy See, and Rev. Milan Žust of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.
His Eminence Hilarion is accompanied by deacon Alexei Dikarev, a staff member of the DECR secretariat for inter-Christian relations; and Mr. Leonid Sevastianov, executive director of the St. Gregory the Theologian Foundation.
Upon the blessing of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and Al Russia, Metropolitan Hilarion will attend the XIII World Synod of Bishops of the Roman Catholic Church and address the participants…
Attending the Synod are 262 Catholic hierarchs and 140 experts and guests from the non-Catholic Churches and communities.
Attending the Synod as observers were Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, Metropolitan Nifon of Targoviste (Romanian Orthodox Church), Metropolitan Irinej of Bačka (Serbian Orthodox Church), and Archbishop Rowan Williams of Canterbury.
Planned are Metropolitan Hilarion’s meetings with Pope Benedict XVI and with Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.
Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk meets with the US Ambassador to Russia
(Note: This meeting occurred on the day Hilarion departed from Russia for Rome.)
On October 15, 2012, Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate’s Department for External Church Relations (DECR), met with H.E. Michael McFaul, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the USA to the Russian Federation.
They were joined in the meeting, which took place at the DECR premises, by Howard Solomon, deputy minister counsellor for political affairs of the US Embassy; archpriest Sergiy Zvonarev, DECR secretary for far abroad countries, and Miguel Palacio, a DECR staff member.
Metropolitan Hilarion wished Ambassador McFaul success in his work in Moscow and told him about the situation of the Orthodox Church in America and other Orthodox jurisdictions in the USA, as well as about the contemporary life and activities of the Russian Orthodox Church in Russia and other countries of her canonical territory. The DECR chairman also shared his vision of the place and role of the Russian Church in the social sphere.
The participants discussed other matters of mutual concern.
Metropolitan Hilarion celebrates at the Russian Monastery on Mount Athos
(Note: Hilarion was in Greece four days before his visit to Rome.)
On October 11, 2012, the commemoration day of St. Chariton the Confessor, and Ss Cyril and Maria of Radonezh, he officiated at the Divine Liturgy in the Church of St. Panteleimon.
Concelebrating were Archbishop Feognost of Sergiev Posad, head of the Synodal Department for Monasteries; hieromonk Makarios, father confessor of St. Panteleimon’s monastery; Rev. Kirill Tatarka, secretary of the Hungarian diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church, and hieromonk Stefan (Igumnov), a DECR staff member.
Brethren and many pilgrims, including laymen who accompanied the DECR chairman, prayed at the divine service, after which the guests were invited to fraternal repast. This being over, Metropolitan Hilarion addressed the brethren.
He said: “The monastery of the Great Martyr Panteleimon has always attracted pilgrims from Russia. It is not fortuitous that we come to the monastery, as monastic life has been thriving here for a thousand years, giving an example to monks, priests, and laymen.
“We do hope that monks of the Holy Mount Athos will remain the custodians of monastic life and successors of the holy fathers and their teaching. We hope that you will put this teaching into practice and that monasticism will flourish in Holy Russia and life of the human race will continue in this world through your prayers.”
Metropolitan Hilarion wished the brethren God’s help and wise guidance on their way to salvation and called on them not to forget that millions of people in the world need their prayers.
Metropolitan Hilarion presented an icon of St. Isaac the Syrian to the monastery.
Later in the day, the DECR chairman and his suite departed for Uranopolis.
Human and divine rights?
For a conversation starter, here is the Russian Orthodox Declaration on Human Rights, formulated and published in 2006.
The World Council of Russian People is an annual event hosted by the Russian Orthodox Church, attended by many conservative social groups and representatives from Russia’s business, government, and religious communities (Muslim, Buddhist, Jewish, and Catholic).
In 2006, it was held in Moscow’s Christ the Savior Cathedral. Welcoming remarks were given by Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin.
The 2006 meeting resulted in “The Declaration of Human Rights and Dignity,” one of the first major documents to contradict the U.N.’s “Universal Declaration of Human Rights.”
According to the Russian document, rights are given by either God or the State and the maintenance and exercise of those rights is dependant upon the motives and actions of the individual. In other words, human rights are not wholly inalienable.
The document also supports the Russian claim that Russia is a unique civilization which must always chose its own path apart from world norms or expectations. The Orthodox Church and the Russian Government have both distanced themselves from “Western” values on the basis that they cannot speak for all civilizations everywhere.
The chief author of the document is believed to be Patriarch Kirill, head of the Russian Orthodox Church (photo).
|Декларация о правах и достоинстве человека X Всемирного русского народного собора||The Declaration of Human Rights and Dignity – The Tenth World Council of Russian People.|
|Сознавая, что мир переживает переломный момент истории, стоит перед угрозой конфликта цивилизаций, по-разному понимающих человека и его предназначение, – Всемирный Русский Народный Собор от имени самобытной русской цивилизации принимает настоящую декларацию.||Whereas the world stands at a historical turning-point and is threatened by civilizational clashes arising from differing conceptions of humanity and human destiny, the World Council of Russian People, on behalf of the distinct Russian civilization, sets forth the following declaration.|
|Человек как образ Божий имеет особую ценность, которая не может быть отнята. Она должна уважаться каждым из нас, обществом и государством. Совершая добро, личность приобретает достоинство. Таким образом, мы различаем ценность и достоинство личности. Ценность – это то, что дано, достоинство – это то, что приобретается.||Man, as an image of God, possesses a special value from which he cannot be separated. This fact must be respected by every person, society, and government. In performing good works, the individual receives his dignity. Thus, we distinguish the value and the dignity of the individual. Value is inherent; dignity is acquired.|
|Вечный нравственный закон имеет в душе человека твердую основу, не зависящую от культуры, национальности, жизненных обстоятельств. Эта основа заложена Творцом в человеческую природу и проявляется в совести. Однако голос совести может быть заглушен грехом. Именно поэтому различению добра и зла призвана содействовать религиозная традиция, имеющая своим Первоисточником Бога.||The eternal moral law is firmly rooted in the soul of every man, regardless of culture, nationality, or social class. It has been laid into human nature by the Creator and is evidenced in human conscience. However, the voice of conscience can be muffled by sin. Therefore, religious tradition, having God as its first mover, is called upon to define good from evil.|
|Мы различаем две свободы: внутреннюю свободу от зла и свободу нравственного выбора. Свобода от зла является самоценной. Свобода же выбора приобретает ценность, а личность – достоинство, когда человек выбирает добро. Наоборот, свобода выбора ведет к саморазрушению и наносит урон достоинству человека, когда тот избирает зло.||We distinguish two rights: the right to internal freedom from evil and the right of moral choice. The right to freedom from evil is of the highest inherent value. The right to choice receives value, and the person dignity, when the person chooses good. Alternatively, the right to chose leads to self-destruction and loss of dignity when the person chooses evil.|
|Права человека имеют основанием ценность личности и должны быть направлены на реализацию ее достоинства. Именно поэтому содержание прав человека не может не быть связано с нравственностью. Отрыв этих прав от нравственности означает их профанацию, ибо безнравственного достоинства не бывает.||Human rights represent the basic worth of the individual and should be used to realize the individual’s dignity. For this very reason, the support of human rights cannot be separated from morality. Uprooting these rights from morality is to profane them, for immoral dignity cannot occur.|
|Мы – за право на жизнь и против “права” на смерть, за право на созидание и против “права” на разрушение. Мы признаем права и свободы человека в той мере, в какой они помогают восхождению личности к добру, охраняют ее от внутреннего и внешнего зла, позволяют ей положительно реализоваться в обществе. В этом свете нами уважаются не только гражданские, политические права и свободы, но также социальные, экономические и культурные права.||We are for the right to life and against the “right” to death, for the right to creation and against the “right” to destruction. We recognize the rights and freedoms of man to the extent that they help the individual to ascend to goodness, save the individual from internal and external evil, and allow the individual to be fully integrated to society. In this light, we recognize not only civil and political freedoms, but also social, economic, and cultural rights.|
|Права и свободы неразрывно связаны с обязанностями и ответственностью человека. Личность, реализуя свои интересы, призвана соотносить их с интересами ближнего, семьи, местной общины, народа, всего человечества.||Human rights and freedoms are inseparable from human responsibility and accountability. The individual, in realizing his own interests, is commanded to do so in correlation with the interests of his neighbors, family, community, nation, and all mankind.|
|Существуют ценности, которые стоят не ниже прав человека. Это такие ценности как вера, нравственность, святыни, Отечество. Когда эти ценности и реализация прав человека вступают в противоречие, общество, государство и закон должны гармонично сочетать то и другое. Нельзя допускать ситуаций, при которых осуществление прав человека подавляло бы веру и нравственную традицию, приводило бы к оскорблению религиозных и национальных чувств, почитаемых святынь, угрожало бы существованию Отечества. Опасным видится и “изобретение” таких “прав”, которые узаконивают поведение, осуждаемое традиционной моралью и всеми историческими религиями.||There are values which are no less important than human rights. These values include faith, morality, and the sanctity of holy objects and one’s homeland. When these values and the realization of human rights conflict, society, the state, and the law should work to harmonize them. We must not allow situations to occur in which the realization of human rights tramples upon religious or moral traditions, insults religious or national feelings or sacred objects, or threatens our homeland’s existence. It is dangerous to “invent” such “rights” which make legal that behavior condemned by traditional morality and all historic religions.|
|Мы отвергаем политику двойных стандартов в области прав человека, а также попытки использовать эти права для продвижения политических, идеологических, военных и экономических интересов, для навязывания определенного государственного и общественного строя.||We reject the use of double standards in the sphere of human rights, and also attempts to use human rights to promote political, ideological, military, and economic interests, or to impose a particular governmental or social order.|
|Мы готовы к сотрудничеству с государством и со всеми благонамеренными силами в деле обеспечения прав человека. Особыми областями такого сотрудничества должны стать сохранение прав наций и этнических групп на их религию, язык и культуру, отстаивание свободы вероисповедания и права верующих на свой образ жизни, противостояние преступлениям на национальной и религиозной почве, защита личности от произвола властей и работодателей, попечение о правах военнослужащих, охрана прав ребенка, забота о людях, находящихся в местах заключения и социальных учреждениях, защита жертв деструктивных сект, недопущение тотального контроля над частной жизнью и убеждениями человека, противодействие вовлечению людей в преступность, коррупцию, работорговлю, проституцию, наркоманию, игроманию.||We are ready to cooperate with the state and all well-intended entities to secure the rights of humanity. This collaboration should especially focus on: preserving the rights of nations and ethnic groups to their individual religion, language, and culture; upholding freedom of conscience and the right of believers to their way of life; standing against ethnic or racially motivated crime; protecting individuals against tyranny from governments or employers; caring for the rights of military men; protecting the rights of children; working for the rights of prisoners and the institutionalized; sheltering the victims of terrorism; preventing totalitarian control over private lives and personal faiths; and assisting the victims of crime, corruption, human trafficking, prostitution, drug abuse, and gambling addiction.|
|Мы стремимся к диалогу с людьми разных вер и взглядов по вопросам прав человека и их места в иерархии ценностей. Сегодня такой диалог, как ничто другое, поможет избежать конфликта цивилизаций, достичь мирного сочетания на планете различных мировоззрений, культур, правовых и политических систем. От того, насколько людям удастся решить эту задачу, зависит их будущее.||We seek dialogue with people of different faiths and opinions on the subject of human rights and the place of those rights within a hierarchy of values. Today such dialogue, more than anything else, will help to avoid the clash of civilizations by instilling a peaceful coexistence of various viewpoints, cultures, and legal and political systems. On the achievement of this goal, hangs the fate of humanity.|
The Russians here are rejecting the autonomy, rationalism, and empericism of the Enlightenment (and beyond) that has become the modern basis for Western law.
It is intruguing that, through the Russian Orthodox Church, the whole modern “human rights agenda” advocated since World War II as “universal norms” is in texts like this being relegated to a “ghetto” under the heading of “western values.”
Hilarion on European Civilization – From the Edict of Milan (permitting Christianity to be legal) to “Christianophobia” (repressing the faith again)
Metropolitan Hilarion’s address to international reflection-action conference on “The Beginning and Triumph of Christendom in Human History”
On October 2, 2012, Hilarion spoke at the opening of an international reflection-action conference on the “Spiritual Feat of Sts Constantine and Helen Equal-to-the-Apostles: The Beginning and Triumph of Christendom in Human History.” The lecture was given at the Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow.
By Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev
October 2, 2012
Dear Participants and Guests of the Conference,
Allow me to greet you on behalf of the Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church, His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia. In his statements, His Holiness has often addressed the theme of Christian values which have formed the European civilization and become the spiritual foundation of our people. It is an important theme to be constantly revisited.
The Christian world is approaching a remarkable date, the 1700th anniversary of the Edict of Milan, which entered the world history as a most important legal document dividing the two eras – those of heathen Roma and Christian Europe.
As far back as 1675 years ago, the initiator of this document, Emperor Constantine the Great, proclaimed by the Church to be holy and equal to the apostles, died.
Speaking about the significance of the holy Emperor Constantine’s deeds for Christians, it is necessary to recall those times of persecution which the Church of Christ had experienced before Roman citizens and subjects were granted freedom of religion.
Our Lord Jesus Christ warned his followers: ‘If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you’ (Jn. 15:20) and ‘they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons. You will be brought before kings and rulers for My name’s sake…’ (Lk. 21:12).
In addition to the persecution by the Jews, which had begun already during our Saviour’s life on earth, the heathen Roman society, too, saw Christians as new enemies. There were several reasons for it. The heathen worship was a source of subsistence for a whole range of persons including pagan priests, producers of idols and oracles. Christians, who rejected the worship of false gods, were accused of godlessness and abandonment of the faith of the forefathers, which was a great dishonour and a moral challenge to the whole people. Extremely suspicious was their evasion from pubic amusements and circuses, which did not add to people’s sympathy for them. Their refusal to recognize the emperor as god, to worship his image and to offer sacrifices provoked suspicions of their disloyalty and high treason. The most terrible crimes began to be imputed to Christians, who were seen as man-haters and people of low life.
Jesus Christ explained to his disciples the reasons for this attitude to be shown to them by those around them: ‘If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you’ (Jn. 15:19).
Heathen intellectuals, without taking the trouble to plunge into the essence of Christ’s teaching, described it as ‘pernicious prejudice’ (Tacitus) or ‘rude and unstinting’ (Pliny the Younger). Among those who came out against Christianity were Stoics, Epicureans and New-Platonist including Lucian of Samosata, Celsius, Flavius Arrianus, Hierocles. Some did not understand the courage and steadfastness of Christian martyrs in their faith, while others believed their teaching to be ‘a random walk in the air’ which, unlike the views of Neo-Platonists, did not even recognize the truth of other religious systems and philosophical views. Verily, Christianity became ‘to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeksfoolishness’ (1 Cor. 1:23).
The public opinion was now quite ready and the only thing required for mass persecution was the political will. What was needed was a spark to set fire to the explosive mixture of rumours, stereotypes and established ideas of Christians. And this spark, in the literal sense of the word, was provided by the fire in Rome kicked up, according to some evidence of contemporaries, by Emperor Nero. Rumours of his complicity in the disaster began to circulate and to supress them he accused Christians of the arson. Tacitus thus described the developments: ‘To get rid of the rumours, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace… Mockery of every sort was added to their deaths. Covered with the skins of beasts, they were torn by dogs and perished, or were nailed to crosses, or were doomed to the flames and burnt, to serve as a nightly illumination, when daylight had expired’ (Tacitus, Annals XV.44).
The persecutions were sometimes to subside sometimes to flame up. Under Diocletianus and his successors, the persecution against Christians became the empire’s last spurt to paganism. Rome’s religious pluralism proved to be incompatible with ‘rigid’ and ‘intolerant’ citizens and subjects who sought the absolute Truth. Once again the powerful state machine failed to cope with unarmed Christians who did not even put up any resistance, which led to radical changes in the empire and St. Constantine Equal-to-the-Apostles was the one who initiated and carried them out.
Historians and theologians were especially interested in the question what exactly made Constantine the Great to take side with Christianity. Clearly, he, just as his father Constantius Chlorus, adopted a favourable attitude to Christians originally under the influence of his mother, the holy Empress Helen Equal-to-the-Apostles. But what was it that ultimately guided the emperor when he initiated the preparation and publication of the Edict of Milan? – Was it a naked political calculation devoid of sincere religious feeling or sincere acceptance of Christ in his heart?
Historical sources, which tell us about the personality of Constantine the Great, are rather polar. There is Church historian Eusebius of Caesarea, on the one hand, and the pagan author Zosimus, on the other, who felt aversion to the personality of the emperor.
These sources were used as a basis by later researchers who added their own subjectivism to this question. There are, for instance, sceptical assessments by German historian Jacob Burckhardt, who described Emperor Constantine as a smart politician and pure pragmatist with no religious motivation whatsoever.
It is impossible to agree with it at least because by that time there had been no more than 10% of Christians in the empire, and to rely on such a narrow segment of the population meant to venture upon an extremely risky political experiment, the more so that this risk was not groundless as neither Senate nor Roman public supported Constantine’s religious policy.
This was evident from the celebrations marking the 20th anniversary of the imperial rule in Rome when the emperor did not take part in the sacrifice made on the occasion of his arrival in the capital, which led to the Romans’ open indignation ready to develop into an armed rebellion. The open hostility of predominantly heathen Rome became one of the factors which compelled Constantine the Great to think over a new capital city for the empire.
The turning point in the emperor’s religious perception of the world happened during his battle with usurper Maxentius, before which Constantine had been instructed by the God of Christians about the way to defeat the enemy.
In 313 in Milan, a conference took place between Constantine the Great and Licinius during which the Edict of Milan was issued on behalf of the two personalities augustus, addressed to presidents of the provinces. Its text has survived in Lactancius’s book ‘On the Deaths of Persecutors’ and in ‘Church History’ by Eusebius of Caesarea.
The edict disavowed the previous acts concerning Christians. Unlike the 311 Edict of Galerius, this document proclaimed full religious freedom to the Roman citizens and subjects: ‘…no one whatsoever should be denied the opportunity to give his heart to the observance of the Christian religion, of that religion which he should think best for himself’. Thus, the heathen worship de jure lost its dominance.
St. Constantine the Great began a gradual process of raising the legal status of the Church. It continued, with certain setbacks and attempts to restore the hegemony of heathenism, under his successors, and Theodosius the Great was to complete the empire’s legal rupture with heathenism.
The Edict of Milan laid foundations for future relations between church and state, which were to be described by Justinian as symphony of priesthood and kingdom.
Recalling in our days the high price paid by Christians for this freedom, we are grieved to see how easily today’s Europe is parting with her Christian identity. The concept of European integration has left aside the religious component. First, any reference to God and Christianity was removed from the draft Constitution of the European Union and later from the Lisbon Treaty, which has replaced the yet non-ratified Constitution. As a result, the whole ideological basis of the European integration was reduced exclusively to freedom, democracy and rule of law – a secular paradigm inconsistent with Europe’s civilizational heritage. The secularization has led to the fact that most Europeans have ceased to correlate their life with the Gospel in order to live according to the ‘consumer society’ standards. More than that, Christianity has become an alien element in public life, which has increasingly encountered manifestations of Christianophobia.
Regrettably, the dominant secular worldview is ousting religion from public space, being declared now ‘a private affair’. That is to say, you can do whatever you wish at home, to believe in whatever you wish ‘in your soul’, but you should cooperate with the state and society only according to established rules, the same for all. This seemingly fair approach becomes a true challenge for Christians when these rules begin to contradict the foundations of Christian ethics. The recognition of such things as abortion, euthanasia, same-sex unions by the secular society makes Christians outcasts since they cannot agree with them as a norm for human life.
The logic of modern secularism reminds that of heathen Rome: you can believe in whatever you like but you are obliged to offer sacrifices to gods which are ‘tolerance’ and ‘pluralism’. The faith in God and readiness to follow His commandments are increasingly described as private opinion and it has become simply indecent, out-dated and archaical to proclaim it too loudly. To name things by their proper names, for instance abortion as infanticide, euthanasia as murder and suicide, is now treated as acts of intolerance incompatible with pluralism of opinions and declared ‘infringement on citizens’ rights and freedoms’.
More and more often in the European Union countries we see discrimination against citizens who express active Christian position.
Moreover, even the wearing of Christian symbols, such as baptismal crosses, can be seen by some employers as a violation of ‘corporate culture’. There are voices speaking of the need to ban public Christmas celebrations under the far-fetched pretext that it may insult people of other religions.
Similar struggle against the presence of religious symbols in schools have been waged for several years in the European Court of Human Rights under the case of ‘Lautsi vs. Italy’ – a vivid example of an attempt of a single person, under the pretext of the infringement of her rights, to impose her own will on millions of people. ‘The religious neutrality of society’ built by proponents of European secularism has turned in practice into a ‘value cleansing’ of this society.
How can Christians oppose such tendencies? What does the power of Christianity lie in? It is determined by the faith of Christians, their ability to live up the Gospel’s law, to bring the light of Divine Truth to people. Having lost the ability to be the salt of the earth, Christians become unable to oppose various ideologies asserting their own rules of common human life.
Today’s conference sets as its task to reflect on the 1700 year-long journey of the Church of Christ from the Edict of Milan to our days – the era filled with many events significant for Christians. And the most important thing in this reflection is an answer to the question about the future of Christianity, the place and role of Christian values in the life of the society, the family and the individual.
Thank you for your attention.
(end, Hilarion’s address on Constantine)
Note: A talk about the old Mass
Dr. Robert Moynihan recorded the following CD in 2007. Since then, more than 10,000 have been ordered. Dr. Moynihan gives a 2,000-year history of the Mass in 60 minutes, which is clear and easy to understand. Dr. Moynihan’s explanation covers many questions, like:
- How does the motu proprio overcome some of the confusion since Vatican II?
- Is this the start of the Benedictine Reform?
- The mind of Pope Benedict: How can the Church strengthen the sense of God’s presence in the Liturgy?
To order, click on the CD below….
Our 2013 Pilgrimages all have openings, although some are filling up with past pilgrims. For the 2013 schedule click here.
Vatican City and Mugnano – The Shrine of St Philomena
February 3 – 10, 2013
A Note from Dr. Robert Moynihan:
When you arrive in Rome on the morning of February 4, a Monday, we will greet you at the airport and whisk you off in a private car to Vatican City itself, the place where Pope Benedict XVI lives and works, and one of the most ancient, beautiful, and secret places in the world.
You will be astonished to find yourself inside Vatican City itself, where you will have a room in one of the world’s most unique residences: the Domus Santa Marta, or “House of St. Martha.” (Remember, St. Martha was know for her hospitality, and this house is meant to be a place where visitors to the Vatican are received with great warmth and friendliness.) When you look out your window (if your room is on the outside of the building!), you will see the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica looming above you in all its splendor, so close you can almost reach out and touch it. This is the very residence where the cardinals from around the world stay during a papal conclave when they elect a new Pope (of course, during a conclave, the residence is completely closed down to outsiders for several months). The fact that we can visit and stay here is a very special honor, and we are grateful to be able to offer our pilgrims this special opportunity to stay inside the Vatican itself. The residence is not open to the general public.
All of our “Friends of Inside the Vatican magazine” pilgrimages are planned to be quiet and prayerful. Your journey with us is intended to be a peaceful, enjoyable, but also unforgettable experience, one which enriches your life and deepens your faith. This is an important point: although we will visit many very special places, our journey is a pilgrimage, not a tour. The spiritual dimension, the search for a deeper understanding of God and of the history and life of the Church, is central. This is why the pace of our pilgrimages will be slow and peaceful, not rushed. There will be time to think and to pray.
Our February pilgrimage will begin on Monday, February 4, with a day of recollection. It will be still a week until the beginning of Lent (Ash Wednesday this year will fall on February 13, and Lent ends on Saturday, March 30, with Easter Sunday on March 31). So our trip is, in a sense, a preparation for Lent, which itself is a preparation for Easter… On our first day, we will begin with confession in St. Peter’s Basilica—just a 2-minute walk from the Domus—near to the tomb of St. Peter. During the afternoon and evening, pilgrims will have a chance to reflect on life, on death, and on the saving work of Christ in rescuing this fallen world from the frustration of sin and our consequent alienation from God.
The second day, Tuesday, February 5, we will reflect on salvation history and get to know the treasures of Vatican City, the smallest country in the world. We will walk through the city, then visit the Vatican Museums, certainly one of the greatest collections of art in the world. One of the Museum’s own special guides will go with us, beginning in the Sistine Chapel , where the papal elections occur, beneath a vault depicting the creation of the world and of man, and a high chapel wall depicting the Last Judgment, so that the walls of this chapel contain, in a condensed form, the entire history of man and of the universe. So our pilgrimage will include sleeping in the residence where the papal electors will sleep, and standing in the chapel where the papal electors will vote… Later on Tuesday, we will visit the barracks of the Swiss Guard, and meet with some of the approximately 110 guards currently on active duty protecting the life of the Pope. These young men will discuss their lives and their work, and tell us what it is like to be present when presidents and kings visit the Vatican. We will be able to visit the place where the guards live, and to see their uniforms and weapons, some dating back centuries.
On Wednesday, February 6, we will focus on the Catholic Church and what it means to be a Catholic, and visit the Pope, St. Peter, and parts of the “Eternal City” of Rome. First, we will see Pope Benedict himself at a general audience. Since the audience will be general, not private, it is not likely that we will be able to get near enough to kiss the Pope’s ring. However, since it will be February and so not as crowded as in the summer, we do expect to be fairly close to Benedict, to see him clearly, to hear his teaching, and to receive his blessing. After lunch, we will go beneath St. Peter’s Basilica to visit the “scavi,” the excavations carried out during the past century, and to see the niche where St. Peter’s bones are still kept, almost 2,000 years after his execution upside down on a cross, under the Emperor Nero in the year 64 A.D. We will then study a map of Rome, and explain where the various parts of the city are located, then go outside the Vatican and cross the Tiber to reach two of the most beautiful piazzas in the world, one in front of the Pantheon, which we will visit, and the other the Piazza Navona with its lovely Bernini fountains, the Church of St. Agnes, and places to eat wonderful gelato (ice cream).
On Thursday, February 7, we will focus on sanctity and what it means to be a saint, and visit the Shrine of St. Philomena, outside of Rome, in Mugnano, not far from Naples. St. Philomena is somewhat controversial. Some scholars deny that she ever existed, and it is true that her feast day was removed from the General Roman Calendar in 1960 (it had been included in the 1920 Roman Missal). Still, Rome has never officially called into question her existence or sainthood, and popular devotion to her has never been prohibited. For two centuries, there has been a great popular devotion to Philomena, rooted in the belief that she was a holy virgin killed during the persecution of the Emperor Diocletian in the early 300s, who is a powerful intercessor for those who pray devotedly to her. We do know this: on May 24, 1802, three tiles in the Catacombs of Priscilla in Rome were found with the inscription “lumena paxte cumfi.” It is generally accepted that the tiles had, in a previous age, been moved out of order, and that the leftmost should have been on the right, as follows: “pax tecum Filumena” (“Peace be with you, Philomena”). Behind the tiles was found a niche with the skeletal remains of a 13- to 15-year-old girl and a small glass vial with vestiges of a person’s blood. In 1805, an Italian priest, Canon Francesco di Lucia, requested relics for a new altar in his church in Mugnano del Cardinale, and the bones were sent to him, arriving on August 11. In 1827, Pope Leo XII gave to the church in Mugnano the three inscribed terra cotta slabs with Philomena’s name on them. So we will visit this church and shrine, and see these relics for ourselves. During our journey home to Rome, we will stop at a lovely vineyard to have dinner and reflect on what we will have heard and seen.
On Friday, February 8, we will focus on models of Christian living for men and women, and visit the great cathedrals of Rome, dedicated to three supreme examples of Christian living: St. Mary, St. John and St. Paul. We will also visit the catacombs of St. Priscilla, where the relics of St. Philomena were found, and the Church of the Holy Cross in Jerusalem, which contains relics of the cross upon which Christ was crucified in 33 A.D. This will be a long day, and will take us across the entire city of Rome, but it should be a memorable day.
On Saturday, February 9, we will focus on the last things, on the life to come, the blessedness of heaven, and on the Virgin Mary, with two main “appointments”: a stroll through the lovely Vatican Gardens (which are in their peacefulness a sign of that peace which will mark the life of the world to come) and a visit to Santa Maria in Trastevere, which is the church in Rome that we like the best, and feel is the most beautiful of all. It is the oldest church in the world that is dedicated to the Virgin Mary, and in this church we will have the chance to meditate on Mary, the Mother of the Church, and the Mother of all who fly to her protection.
On Sunday, February 10, we will have our final moments together, and the pilgrimage will end, having gone from the Vatican outward into Rome, and into Italy, and then back again, and having reflected on some of the major themes of our spiritual lives.
Of course, each day, there will be surprises that I won’t tell you about here—or they would not be surprises! But we will visit other places inside the Vatican that I have not named, and we will meet a number of friends of the magazine, who will speak with us and pray with us.
So, please consider joining me on this journey. It should be a quiet, peaceful, joyful time, with many hours devoted to prayer and meditation, in the places of St. Peter, St. Paul. St. Philomena, and St. Mary, and close to Pope Benedict.
— Robert Moynihan
founder and editor of Inside the Vatican magazine
Pre-Lenten Pilgrimage – St Philomena
Vatican City and Mungano: Shrine of St Philomena
February 3 – 10, 2013
Day 1: Preparation – preparing ourselves – Sunday, February 3, 2013 – Depart United States via overnight flight to Rome
Day 2: Recollection – collecting ourselves… confession – Monday, February 4, 2013 – Arrive in Rome, private transfer to Vatican City, overnight in Vatican City at the Domus Santa Marta
Day 3: “In the beginning”… the fall, and the rise again = salvation history – Tuesday, February 5, 2013 – Tours Vatican Museum, Swiss Guard’s barracks, overnight in Vatican City
Day 4: The Church… the new ark, the new covenant, the vessel of salvation – Wednesday, February 6, 2013 – Papal Audience, Scavi Tour, Pantheon and Piazza Navona
Day 5: Sanctity… and St. Philomena, the way to live out salvation – Thursday, February 7, 2013 – Travel in private motor coach from Vatican City to Mugnano – Shrine of St Philomena, dinner at fine local winery, overnight in Vatican City
Day 6: Models of life… John, Paul, Mary… and St. Martha… and Benedict… living the faith today – Friday, February 8, 2013 – Visit Catacombs of St. Priscilla, St. John Lateran, St. Mary Major, St Paul’s Outside the Walls and The Holy Cross in Jerusalem, overnight in Vatican City
Day 7: The “last things”… and heaven, the reward, or result, or prize, for living the faith – Saturday, February 9, 2013 – Tour Vatican Gardens, Santa Maria in Trastevere, overnight in Vatican City
Day 8: Going home… – Sunday, February 10, 2013 – Depart for the United States
- Spend 6 nights at the Domus Santa Marta inside Vatican City, directly adjacent to St. Peter’s Basilica
- Private tour of the Vatican Gardens
- Tour of the tomb of St Peter, the Scavi Tour
- Private tour of the Swiss Guards’ Barracks
- Dine in Vatican City’s only dining room outside the Papal Palace
- Daily Mass celebrated in either the Domus Santa Marta, St Peter’s Basilica, Catacombs, Shrine of St Philomena, Church of Santa Maria in Trastevere
- Papal Audience in St. Peter’s Piazza with Pope Benedict XVI
- Dinners with Dr. Robert Moynihan and special guests and friends of Inside the Vatican magazine
- Private tour of St Peter’s Basilica, the Vatican Museum—visiting closed areas that are off limits to the general public—and the Sistine Chapel
- An informative walking tour of Vatican City with Dr. Robert Moynihan as your guide
- Tour the Pantheon
- Baroque Rome – walking tour of Piazza Navona and Spanish Steps stopping in special churches along the way to pray
- Ancient Rome – driving tour through Ancient Rome – Colosseum, Roman Forum
- Christian Rome – visit all major Basilicas in Rome – St. Mary Major, St. Paul’s Outside the Walls, St. John Lateran and The Holy Cross in Jerusalem
- Dine in some of our favorite restaurants in Rome
- The rector of the Shrine of St. Philomena in Mugnano will greet us and speak about the young female martyr, St. Philomena
- Private Mass in the Shrine of St. Philomena
- Visit the Catacombs of St. Priscilla in Rome, where the remains of St. Philomena were found
- Private Mass in the Catacombs of St. Priscilla
About 20 miles northeast of Naples, at Mugnano del Cardinale, you will find the body of one of today’s most popular and beloved saints: Saint Philomena, the miracle worker. In 1802, workers in the Catacombs of St. Priscilla in Rome discovered a tomb with three terracotta slabs reading PAXTE CUMFI LUMENA (Pax tecum Filumena), which means “Peace Be With You, Filumena.” The slabs were marked with a lily, arrows, an anchor and a palm, symbols indicating virginity, martyrdom, and the instrument of her martyrdom. Inside the tomb were the remains of a girl of about thirteen years of age, along with a vial of her dried blood, which signified that this was indeed a Martyr.
Her relics were kept in Rome until 1805 when a priest from Mugnano asked for permission to bring them to his parish. During that time in history, there was much dissension in the air, and people were openly rejecting Church teachings. When her relics were brought to the village church at Mugnano, graces flowed: conversions, favors, and miracles began to occur among the villagers and in the nearby vicinity. Miracles continued to occur year after year, and in 1837, Pope Gregory XVI elevated Philomena to Sainthood. Today, she is still revered as a miracle worker and is more popular than ever. There are many shrines erected to her throughout the world. Among the many saints with a devotion to her was the wonder worker, Saint John Vianney (the Curé of Ars), who attributed all his miracles to her. He encouraged his parishioners to pray to Philomena and seek her intercession. The Curé had a shrine installed in his parish church, where people frequently beseeched the Saint for her powerful intercession.
- $5,500.00 per person – Land and Air Package ($1,000 air allowance)
- $4,500.00 per person – Land Package
- No additional fee for a single room
- Comprehensive travel insurance is included
- 3 meals per day are included, all with bottled mineral water and wine
- Deposit of $500 by check, made payable to Inside the Vatican magazine, is required
at the time of booking
- Due to private access to sacred areas, we request all pilgrims provide a brief note of recommendation from their bishop or local parish priest (we supply a sample letter)
- Number of pilgrims is limited to 12 pilgrims to allow for a peaceful, prayerful, and personal experience
- This pilgrimage helps to support the Domus Santa Marta, and Inside the Vatican magazine
We will make every effort to adhere to the printed program and itinerary. On rare occasions it may be necessary to adjust arrangements due to unforeseen circumstances beyond our control (including such circumstances as the weather, airline schedule change, hotel requisitions, political disturbances, or transportation mechanical problems). Should such adjustment be necessary, substitution will be made to the best of our abilities.
For more information or to reserve your spot:
The Solemn Pontifical High Mass is scheduled for November 3, a Saturday, at 3 p.m.
“The celebration and worship of the Eucharist enable us to draw near to God’s love and to persevere in that love.” -- Pope Benedict XVI, Apostolic Exhortation Sacramentum Caritatis (“The Sacrament of Charity”)
“Introibo ad altare Dei…”
Cardinal Antonio Canizares Llovera, 66, the Spanish-born Prefect of the Holy See’s Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments (and a man considered very close to Pope Benedict XVI, so much so that his nickname in Rome is “the little Ratzinger,” in part because he is of short stature, shorter than the Pope, but also in part because his theological and liturgical views are so closely aligned with those of the Pope) is scheduled to celebrate a Solemn Pontifical High Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica on Saturday, November 3, 2012, in three weeks, to conclude a 3-day Roman conference on the Catholic tradition.
Given the position and outlook of Canizares, one could argue that, symbolically speaking, the decision to allow this Mass in the Vatican basilica at this time at the outset of the “Year of Faith,” and to have the celebrant be the man in charge of the Vatican’s liturgical office, and the man whose nickname is “the little Ratzinger,” is as close as Rome could come to having the traditional Mass celebrated by the Pope himself without having it celebrated by the Pope.
But what Benedict himself really thinks of this Mass, other than that he is allowing it to be celebrated, is not clear.
Here is a poster one can now see on display in Rome giving the details of the Mass. The picture on the poster is slightly misleading. Though it shows a picture of Pope Benedict XVI kneeling at the altar, Benedict will not be the celebrant of the Mass, but rather Canizares Llovera.
The title means “At One With Our Pope” or “United With Our Pope,” as if to emphasize the loyalty of these traditional Catholics to the Roman pontiff, even as negotiations with the traditional Society of St. Pius X seem to have reached an impasse.
What is the Pope’s true opinion about the old Mass?
The celebration of this Mass raises the question, once again, of what is Pope Benedict’s true position on the old Mass.
And the first thing that one must reply on this important, valid question is… we do not have a clear answer.
In past years, during meetings with the Pope — when he was still Cardinal Ratzinger — I often asked him what his position was, and I felt he never gave a full, unambiguous answer.
I did attend many Masses which Cardinal Ratzinger celebrated at 7 a.m. each Thursday morning in the Teutonic College church inside the Vatican walls, and those Masses were always of the new rite, celebrated in a very simple, solemn way.
And I can say that, in our conversations, Cardinal Ratzinger repeatedly expressed a certain sorrow, even indignation, over the way the conciliar liturgical “reform” took place, saying that the liturgy was developed in a “non-organic way” by “professors sitting around a table” and that, as the new liturgy was introduced, without sufficient explanation, the ordinary faithful were often confused, and sometimes scandalized, and this is the position he took quite explicitly in his book The Spirit of the Liturgy.
But when, for example, I expressed my belief (this was in 1993, so, almost 20 years ago) that the annual cycle of readings should not have been replaced by a three-year cycle of readings (I argued that the annual cycle was in a certain way more “organic,” more in harmony with the natural cycle of the seasons, and so more deeply penetrating, psychologically and spiritually, into the hearts and souls of ordinary faithful, who would here the same words on the same Sunday each year, but in the changed circumstances brought by the passage of time and life), he then was quite emphatic that the three-year cycle was an improvement, saying it allowed the faithful to hear more passages of the Word of God, and did not limit them to hearing the same passages each year. This argument made clear to me that Pope Benedict personally does in some ways favor at least certain aspects of the conciliar liturgical reform as an improvement over the traditional liturgy.
The German writer Martin Mosebach has written a brilliant book on the old Mass, in praise of the old liturgy, arguing that its words and gestures favor an attitude of solemnity, of humble piety, and facilitate a contemplative “waiting” for “theophany” — for the appearance, here and now, in space and time, of the divine, of the Lord, of God. Mosebach once stated that Pope John Paul II celebrated the Old Rite on several occasions privately. And Bishop Bernard Fellay of the Society of St. Pius X (the traditionalist group founded by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre) has said that “someone in the Roman Curia” told him that Pope Benedict, too, has celebrated the old Mass on several occasions privately. But this is hearsay; we do not know if it is true.
A great problem: the exploitation of the old Mass as a “standard”
One great problem is that the old Mass is very often seen as something at once more and less than it is. And that makes it a very emotional matter, little adapted to rational discussion. This is a profound problem.
By this I mean that the old Mass is seen as a type of sign for an entire culture, an entire worldview, and entire civilization, which we may call, for the sake of brevity, “Christendom.”
The old Mass is seen by many — both by some who defend it and by some who denounce it — as the “standard” of a type of belief and culture which has been in crisis for some 200 years and more, exemplied in that (in many ways corrupt) “ancien regime” which was overthrown with such brutality by the French Revolution in the 1790s.
But the old Mass was never this. It never was the standard of a limited human culture. Never.
And that it was and is so often seen to be so — by both sides — in the first half of the 20th century (in the time of the Liturgical Movement), and in the second half of the 20th century (in the post-Conciliar, post-1968 fever of breaking with a so-called hidebound past), and in the first years of the 21st century (in a time of generalized disorientation and even, seemingly, spiritual exhaustion) is a fundamental, indeed, a fatal error, for the worship of the Church, and for the life of the Church.
A fundamental error because this diminishment of the Mass, which is an act of worship, the supreme act of ecclesial life, this simplistic reduction of an act of worship to an act which is only the external form of a type of human social system, and so of a type, often, of human social oppression, and then further, the acceptance of the argument for this diminishment, is the deep reason why the life of grace has been so often, so widely, so commonly, impeded, even halted, seemingly ceasing to flow, in the Church of our time.
And I mean by this the decision of hundreds, of thousands, of millions, of tens of millions, to cease attending Mass, to cease making a confession, to cease marrying in the Church, to cease celebrating a funeral Mass for deceased parents, to cease receiving the Eucharist.
The channels of grace, the simple ways of connecting this world to the next, the human to the divine, the fallen to the redeemed, have been covered up, hidden, taken away…
The old Mass was, and is, the organic expression of the faith of Christians in the Risen Lord, from the first generation to the present time. It was never intended to be the Mass of any political or cultural regime. And that it came to be seen as the expression of a certain political or social culture is one of the profound reasons that the Council Fathers felt they had to approve a “reform” of the liturgy.
But the “reform” of the old Mass that was produced was not the reform that, in the letter of the Council documents — which Pope Benedict in recent days has urged us to return to — the Council Fathers called for.
And so we have passed through almost two generations of liturgical confusion, and the consequent crisis of belief which inevitably follows liturgical confusion, for it is true that lex credendi, lex orandi — “the law of prayer is the law of belief” — that is, as we pray, so we believe.
And in saying all this, I am not saying there were no aspects of the “way of praying” in the old liturgy which may have been dangerous, in some way, to true Christian maturity. It may be true that, in some ways, as some refromers have argued, the old liturgy tended to foster a type of piety which was simplistic, a “pie in the sky” faith detached from the “here and now” of Christ’s call to act on urgent matters of charity and social justice. In this view, some aspects of the celebration of the old Mass, the incense, the robes, the mystery, casued people so much to focus on “heaven” that they forgot “earth.” I acknowledge that this may have been, and may be, true, and a concern for liturgical reformers who are truly committed to building the Kingdom, here and in time to come.
But in the process of attempting to change the law of prayer in order to come to a more profound, more active, most justice-oriented law of belief, we took some detours, stripped our churches of statues, broke stained-glass windows, turned against our heritage, and lost our way.
Benedict and the old Mass
In 2006, a year before Benedict XVI promulgated Summorum Pontificum (the document in which Benedict taught that the old Mass was not wrong or heretical, but worthy, holy, even great, and could be celebrated by any priest in the Church), Alice von Hildebrand had a private audience with the Holy Father. (I met with Dr. Hildebrand in Rome during those days when she had her meeting.) There, face to face, she urged Benedict to “free” the Traditional Mass, and pressed him as to when he would do it. He answered that he would do it in the “not-too-distant future” (it took him another year and two months to overcome the resistance of many high-ranking Churchmen). The exchange leaked out.
Now what many Catholics who hold traditional views regarding the Church’s prayer and worship wonder is this: will Pope Benedict himself, in a completely un-emotional, un-dramatic way, someday soon, announce, “I myself will celebrate the old Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica.”
I think he may do this during this Year of Faith, precisely because the law of prayer is the law of faith.
And also, because it is the one, single gesture he could make which would have the greatest impact on our Orthodox brothers, who fear that the impact of secularizing elements had a negative impact on our reformed liturgy, and would be inclined to enter more fully into ecumenical dialogue with the Catholic Church were the old liturgy to be more “rehabilitated” than it has yet been.
Several years ago, writing in the apostolic exhortation Sacramentum Caritatis (“Mystery of Charity”), Pope Benedict encouraged wider knowledge and use of the Mass prayers in Latin and of Gregorian chant, repeating a 2005 bishops’ synod’s affirmation of the “beneficial influence” of the liturgical changes which followed the Second Vatican Council on the life of the Church.
However, he also endorsed the synod’s suggestion that at Masses with a large, international congregation, the liturgy be celebrated in Latin “with the exception of the readings, the homily and the prayer of the faithful.” (Of course, he was referring here to celebrating the new Mass in Latin, not the old Mass.)
If Benedict were to do this, he would not be saying he supports the ancien regime. He would not be saying he is a reactionary.
To the contrary, he would be saying that the extraordinary form of the Roman rite, the old Latin Mass, is not a standard, a cover, for reaction, but something different and far greater: a set of very simple, very ancient, very Jewish-rooted prayers, petitions, actions, and gestures which recall and represent and re-enact the suffering of the carpenter of Nazareth on Calvary in Jerusalem, which are valid and effective and extraordinarily beautiful prayers, petitions, actions and gestures, and which are fitting for Catholics now, and in future, as they always were in times past.
In three months, Benedict XVI will be the fourth-oldest Pope ever, behind Leo XIII, Clement XII, and Clement X.
October 6, 2012, Thursday — Guilty
The Pope’s butler has been found guilty and sentenced to 18 months in jail
Guilty, but a reduced sentence
The trial of the Pope’s butler, Paolo Gabriele, 46, is over, and the sentence has been handed down by a Vatican court: “Guilty” of stealing confidential papers from the Pope and his closest advisors. Gabriele was sentenced to 18 months in jail.
(Here, Paolo Gabriele in the Vatican court. He was found guilty and sentenced to 18 months in prison by a Vatican court after a trial that opened one week ago)
This is a lighter sentence than the 3 years that prosecutors had asked for, and lighter than the 6 years that had been reported as the possible maximum sentence for this crime.
The Italian press reported this as a “compromise” decision.
The defense had asked the court to reduce the charges from “aggravated theft” to “misappropriation,” and for him to be freed.
In his final statement before sentencing, Gabriele said he did not see himself as a thief, and that he had acted out of “love for the Church,” a “visceral love.”
During the trial, he testified that he loved his employer, Pope Benedict XVI, “as a son” loves a father, and that he took the documents in an attempt to do something to help the Pope in his efforts to “clean up” corruption in the Church.
“What I feel most strongly inside myself is the conviction that I acted exclusively out of love, I would say a visceral love, for the Church of Christ and its visible representative,” Gabriele said this morning in a flat voice betraying no emotion. ”If I have to repeat it, I am not a thief,” he added.
The Pope could still pardon Gabriele, Father Federico Lomnbardi, the Pope’s press spokesman, said today. Lombardi said the trial transcript is now part of the public record, and will be available to the Pope to evaluate as he makes his decision.
Until such time, Gabriele will serve his sentence under house arrest in his Vatican apartment, with his wife and three children, and even be allowed to walk in the Vatican Gardens (photo) under escort, and not go to an Italian jail. If he is not pardoned, he will be taken to an Italian jail, is foreseen by bilateral agreements due to the Vatican’s lack of any such facility, his lawyer Cristiana Arru told journalists.
(Here, Pope Benedict XVI, 85, who is said to be deeply saddened by his butler’s betrayal of his trust; he could still pardon the butler)
The sentence was reduced, the judges said, due to “mitigating circumstances”: because Gabriele had no previous criminal record and because he had “acknowledged that he betrayed the trust of the Holy Father.”
Gabriele, who served the Pope his meals and helped him dress, admitted in court that he had photocopied sensitive documents in the presence of his immediate superiors, the Pope’s two personal secretaries — Monsignor Georg Gaenswein (who also testified at the trial) and Monsigner Alfred Xuereb — in a small office adjacent to the papal living quarters in the Apostolic Palace.
Vatican police testified that they discovered more than 1,000 photocopies and also many original documents, including some the Pope had marked “to be destroyed,” interspersed among many “hundreds of thousands” of other papers and newspaper clippings in a huge armoire in the family apartment inside Vatican City walls.
One issue that was not settled by this trial was whether Gabriele had accomplices.
This summer, in mid-July, the German journalist Paul Badde (photo, with Pope Benedict), writing in Die Welt, suggested that Gabriele had been in communication with, and supported by, others in the Vatican, and he named three people in particular as “supporters” if not accomplices of Gabriele: Cardinal Paolo Sardi, 78, currently Patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta and formerly Vice Camerlengo of the Roman Catholic Church and the head official in the Vatican Secretariat of State in charge of preparing the final texts of the Popes speeches and addresses; Archbishop Joseph Clemens, 65, currently the Secretary (the #2 post) in the Vatican’s Council for the Laity, and formerly, for almost 20 years, from 1984 until 2003, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger’s personal secretary, being succeeded by Monsignor Gaenswein; and Ingrid Stampa, 62, a German laywoman trained as a musicologist, who took the place of Joseph Ratzinger’s sister, Maria, who had been Ratzinger’s housekeeper in Rome until her death in 1991, and who is regarded as one of the Pope’s closest confidants.
(Here is a photo of Ingrid Stampa and Archbishop Joseph Clemens with the Pope’s older brother, Monsignor Georg Ratzinger)
Father Lombardi issued a public statement after it was picked up in the Italian press a week later, saying the article was false.
But Badde, who is believed to be close to the Pope’s present secretary, Monsignor Gaenswein, has told Inside the Vatican that he stands by his story, and he maintains that the trial and sentencing of Gabriele is the end of only the first phase of a larger story that will continue for some time.
During the trial, Gabriele said that, from his post at the Pope’s side day after day as papal butler, he was able to see how easily a powerful man could be manipulated by aides and kept in the dark about things he should have known.
Gabriele told investigators before the trial began that he leaked the documents because he saw “evil and corruption everywhere in the Church” and that information was being hidden from the Pope.
There are many puzzles about this case even now, after the verdict.
For example, Gabriele testified that he was “sparked into action” in the year 2010, when he saw a particular need to begin to collect documents in his private home.
But, as Gaenswein testified, the documents in Gabriele’s home go back to the year 2006, to the very beginning of his service.
This seems a serious contradiction: that fact that Gabriele was collecting documents from the first moment he became the Pope’s butler seems to contradict the story that he “sprang into action” only in 2010.
And this opens onto another question: How did Gabriele get the job of papal butler? Who suggested him? Despite the long investigation this summer and now the week-long trial, this point has never been fully clarified.
Third, it has never been made clear how Gabriele got into touch with Gianluigi Nuzzi, the Italian journalist who then took the document Gabriele brought to him and published them in his book, His Holiness: The Secret Papers of Pope Benedict XVI, which appeared just five months ago, in May 2012, touching off the “Vatileaks” scandal. Gabriele said he contacted Nuzzi by mail, but Nuzzi writes in his book on p. 17 that a fellow journalist, not named, was the intermediary. Which version is the truth.
Fourth, regarding the qustion of accomplices.
During the winter, on an Italian television program, Gabriele, speaking anonymously, with his face covered and his voice muffled — but it is now known that it was indeed Gabriele — said “about 20″ others in the Vatican had helped him to furnish documents to Nuzzi. During this trial, Gabriele referred to seven people in the Vatican as people who had “suggested” to him that he work to shine light on Vatican corruption, but denied that any had actually been his accomplices.
Now, perhaps these remarks were “red herrings,” that is, lies.
Certainly Gabriele has now been tried and condemned as, evidenrtly, the sole sources of the “Vatileaks.”
Still, in Italy, in addition to Badde, others have written that “Gabriele did not act alone, he was simply a pawn in a larger Curial struggle.”
So the case of the Pope’s butler was closed this morning.
But there may be more to come on the general matter of who is helping and who is hindering Pope Benedict as he attempts to lead the Church in our time in keeping with the message of Christ and the tradition of the Apostles, preaching ceaselessly the “Good News” of Christ in a world that often seems to desire that he keep silent.
October 3, 2012, Wednesday — “Hundreds of thousands of pages…”
The Vatican police say what they found in the butler’s apartment…
Today the Vatican police testified about what they found when they raided Paolo Gabriele’s apartment on May 23.
What did they find?
Among other things, papers from the Pope’s private desk marked, in German, “destroy” (“zu vernichten“). In other words, Pope Benedict, or his secretary, Monsignor Georg Gaenswein, had asked that these sensitive papers be destroyed.
Obviously, these documents were not destroyed — Gabriele, evidently, took them and preserved them in his home.
Four Vatican policemen — Luca Cintia, Stefano De Santis, Silvano Carli and Luca Bassetti — were the only witnesses to give testimony today in the ongoing “Vatileaks” trial.
They spoke about finding these documents marked “destroy,” and about everything else they found the night they raided Gabriele’s apartment inside Vatican City where he lived with his wife and three children.
One piece of evidence they provided was startling: that there was a lot of computer hardware found in Gabriele’s apartment:
- one desktop computer
- “two or three laptops”
- “numerous USB keys” (small digital memory “pens,” devices which store data on a “pen” or “key” the size of a finger; the word “numerous” is italicized because we do not know how many were found, perhaps a dozen or so, perhaps even more…);
- two hard disks;
- various memory cards;
- a Playstation, and an iPad.
Now, what data (say, photographs, possibly even of the Pope? or recordings, possibly of the Pope’s private conversations?) was saved on all of this hardware?
We do not know.
In fact, one of the policemen who testified today seemed to suggest that the data on this hardware, the information stored on these computers, hard drives and memory cards, has not yet even been catalogued by the Vatican police.
“It’s going to be interesting,” said De Santis, referring to studying the data stored on these devices — in the future tense.
This would seem to mean that the thorough investigation of these memory chips and hard drives has not yet occurred.
And this seems peculiar, for here we have a man who had access to literally everything in the Pope’s private apartment, and we know that he gave some of his material to Gianluigi Nuzzi for publication in the book His Holiness: The Secret Papers of Benedict XVI, but we do not know whether he shared his information with anyone else.
Nor do we know if he worked for anyone else.
Apparently, the Vatican police don’t know either — four months after collecting all of these computer devices.
A “secret agent”?
The Vatican police confirmed what we reported yesterday: that Gabriele’s archive seemed like something that would be kept by a “secret agent” — by a spy. (Remember, this was the Pope’s butler, a man who was physically next to Pope Benedict XVI for hours every day for the past six years.)
Writing today in VaticanInsider (a website funded by La Stampa of Turin, property of Gianni Agnelli and family, the major owner of FIAT, the Italian car company; Agnelli was reportedly a founder of the Trilateral Commission and a member of the Bilderberg steering commission), Italian journalist Giacomo Galeazzi wrote about Gabriele’s “strange 007-style archive” which contained “letters from politicians, correspondence between cardinals and the Pope, and documents on freemasonry and secret services.”
According to the testimony today, the police were at Gabriele’s home from 3:50 in the afternoon until just before midnight, for about 8 hours, on the afternoon and evening of May 23.
Andrea Gagliarducci, a young Italian journalist who writes for the website Korazym, noted today: “La perquisizione del 23 maggio comincia tra le 15 e le 16 (alle 15 e 50) e termina intorno alle 23, quando i gendarmi decidono di portare via tutto il materiale per analizzarlo con cura” (“The raid of May 23 began between 3 and 4 o’clock — at 3:50 — and ended at about 11 pm, when the gendarmes decided to carry away all the material to analyze it with care”).
Galeazzi of VaticanInsider added: “As the search dragged on and Gabriele had decided not to send his family away, the commander of the Vatican Gendarmerie, Domenico Giani, issued an order for the search in the children’s rooms to be speeded up so as to protect them as far as possible and allow them to sleep.”
Two of the Vatican police — Silvano Carli and Luca Bassetti — arrived on the scene when the house search was already underway, especially to look through the children’s rooms.
“Sorry if you have have to work late…”
The policemen said that Gabriele offered them coffee during the search and then said to them: “Vedete quanto mi piace leggere? Vedete quanto mi piace studiare? Mi dispiace se farete tardi.” (“Do you see how much I like to read? Do you see how much I like to study? I’m sorry if you have to work late…”)
Then, after some eight hours of rifling through Paolo’s papers, looking for Vatican documents hidden inside other folders, and evidently finding several hundred pages of papers taken from the Vatican mixed among the mass of other papers and folders, the Vatican police took a dramatic decision: they decided to simply cart away all of the material in Gabriele’s home: 82 crates of documents, plus two leather briefcases and two yellow bags full of letters (it is not clear how large these bags were).
Now, most of these 82 crates were not Vatican documents. Rather, they were “hundreds of thousands of documents” (yes, the trial transcript says “hundreds of thousands”) which were Gabriele’s own archives.
In a certain sense, one could almost say, given these proportions — about 1,000 pages of documents taken by Gabriele from the Vatican (enough to make a stack about three or four inches high, high enough to fit in an ordinary briefcase), and “hundreds of thousands” of pages of documents (so, a stack hundreds of times higher, dozens of feet) — that the Vatican police, in the end, may have been as interested in obtaining possession of and studying Gabriele’s own archives, gathered over many years on matters ranging from freemasonry to the role of secret agencies in world affairs, as in getting back the 1,000 or so pages of “Vatileaks” documents that were mixed in with these “hundreds of thousands” of private archive pages.
They took the whole lot.
Was there anything else in those “hundreds of thousands” of pages of interest? Anything else obtained from anywhere besides the Vatican, for example?
We simply do not know.
Galeazzi writes: “The number of vital documents found was far greater than those published by Italian journalist Gianluigi Nuzzi in his book Sua Santità (‘His Holiness’). But these were ‘well hidden’ as they were ‘mixed in with thousands of other letters’ to do with studies and texts on ‘Masonry, esoterism, the P2 and P4 Masonic Lodges, secret services, the Bisignani and Calvi cases, the Vatican bank (IOR), the AIF [the body which oversees the Vatican finances] and Berlusconi,’ the Vatican police said. But there were also texts about ‘Christianity and yoga, Christianity and other religions, yoga and Buddhism and other material which was presumably to do with Gabrieles’ children’s schooling and studies.’ Other material is to do with ‘how to hide jpeg and Word files, how to record and make videos, and how to secretly use a cell phone.’ The documents that were seized filled up 82 cardboard removal boxes measuring 50-60 cm by 50 cm.”
An odd thing then happened at the trial.
Gabriele’s lawyer, Cristiana Arru, kept asking each one of the four Vatican policemen what seemed a silly question: How large were the armoirs, the two floor-to-ceiling wooden cabinets, which held all of these documents? And how large, she asked, were the boxes into which all the documents were placed when they were removed?
She was suggesting that, if you add all the 82 boxes together, they would overfill the two armoirs in Paolo’s home — that is, that the police took more from Paolo’s home than was there, meaning, they added to what was there.
This was never proved, of course; but it was the thrust of her questioning.
Arru told reporters after the hearing that she wanted to show that it was physically impossible for that amount of material to have been in Gabriele’s home.
Moreover, at the hearing, she asked each agent: “Were you ever alone during the raid?” In other words: Was there ever a time during the eight hours when Gabriele or his wife or his children were not present to observe the police?
Why was she asking this question?
Evidently, to suggest that it might have been possible for some documents to have been planted by the police.
In other words, in these questions, she was raising the possibility that some of the Vatican documents found by the police were not stolen by Gabriele, but placed there by the police to frame Gabriele.
De Santis replied, as did the others, that they were never alone. “Non siamo mai e poi mai rimasti da soli durante la perquizione, erano sempre presenti Paolo e la sua famiglia. Quando alle 20 abbiamo trasferito Gabriele in caserma, lo studio è stato chiuso a chiave.” (“We were never, and I stress, never, alone during the raid. Paolo and his family were always present. When at about 8 pm we transferred Gabriele to the police station, his study was closed and the door locked.”)
However, it is not clear from this testimony what the police did in the house between 8 pm, when they took Gabriele away, and 11 pm or midnight, when they left the house.
Regarding the 82 boxes of documents, Alessandrini said: “Tutti gli scataloni sono stati sigillati in presenza di Paolo Gabriele, che insieme a me ha controllato e controfirmato ogni scatola.” (“All the large boxes were sealed in the presence of Paolo Gabriele, who together with me checked and counter-signed each box.”)
But if this is the case, the boxes had to have been closed and signed before 8 pm, or so it would seem. Then what did the police do from 8 pm to 11 pm?
The Vatican police, or Gendarmerie (as it is called), is staffed entirely by Italians. It was founded in 1971, taking over many of the Vatican security functions once carried out by the Swiss Guard (staffed entirely by Swiss Catholics) which is today largely a ceremonial corps. The Gendarmerie is led by Domenico Giani, a former Italian secret service agent. So the security of the Pope and the Vatican is under the authority of Giani, a former member of the Italian secret services.
We know that Gabriele spent considerable time and energy studying the activity of secret services in general, and had extensive archives on this subject. We also know he kept extensive archives on the role of freemasonry in Italy (“P2,” “P3″ and “P4″, as these masonic groups have been called) and on the influence of freemasonry in the Italian government and in Italy’s military and secret services.
Allesandro Speciale, a young Italian journalist writing today, also in VaticanInsider, had this to say about testimony yesterday, when Gabriele said he had been held in a tiny cell and with a light kept on all night which he could not turn off: “According to journalists who were present in the courtroom, Giani [the head of the Vatican police], who was seated in the tiny audience present at the hearing, appeared embarrassed on more than one occasion about the information revealed during the session. Not just when Gabriele stated he had been held in a constantly lit prison cell in which he could hardly stretch his arms out, for at least 15 days.”
Speciale adds: “Gabriele’s lawyer, Cristiana Arru, was insistent in the questions she addressed to three other Vatican policemen: Giuseppe Pesce, Gianluca Gauzzi Broccoletti and Costanzo Alessandrini. It emerged that the Vatican police conducted the search of Gabriele’s house without gloves and thus risked contaminating the evidence. Gauzzi Broccoletti and Alessandrini, two of the agents who took part in the search which led to the seizure of 82 boxfuls of documents from the former papal butler’s apartment, gave slightly different versions of the finding of the mysterious (possibly) golden nugget [note: a piece of gold given to the Pope as a gift which ended up in Gabriele's apartment], which was treated as proof against Gabriele: No one gave a clear answer as to where exactly the nugget was found inside the house.”
Vatican judges said they would meet again on Saturday, October 6, to hear closing arguments. Gabriele will have a final opportunity to speak at that time. The judges will then retire for deliberation and a verdict is expected the same day.
October 2, 2012, Tuesday — Face to Face: The Butler and the Papal Secretary Testify
But mysteries about the “Vatileaks” remain…
Today the “iconic moment” occurred.
There they were, face to face, in a small Vatican courtroom (photo below — the defendant, Paolo Gabriele, the Pope’s disloyal butler, is in the middle, against the wall, in a grey suit; the papal secretary is not yet in the courtroom).
But the two never exchanged glances… never looked into each other’s eyes.
This morning Paolo Gabriele, 46, the Pope’s former butler, on trial in the Vatican on a charge that he stole sensitive Vatican documents, came face to face with the man who in May (by a process of exclusion) unmasked him as the source of at least some of the “Vatileaks” documents (Gabriele has already admitted this much) — Monsignor Georg Gaenswein, 56, the personal secretary of Pope Benedict XVI.
Gabriele rose to his feet, respectfully, when Gaenswein entered and left the room.
“A dark-faced Fr. Georg did not look at Gabriele in the face once whilst in the courtroom,” Giacomo Galeazzi of VaticanInsider wrote today.
(Here are the three men in better times, Paolo Gabriele in front and Monsignor Georg Gaenswein in back, accompanying Pope Benedict XVI in the “popemobile”)
Gaenswein testified about the daily routines of the papal household and the moment he began to suspect Gabriele was the source of the leaks.
He said that he realized that three documents that appeared this spring in His Holiness: The Secret Papers of Pope Benedict XVI’s could only have come from the office he shared with Gabriele and the Pope’s other private secretary.
As soon as saw this, he told the court, he asked the Pope’s permission to question members of the small papal family over the leaked documents.
Cristina Cernetti, one of the four consecrated lay women who work in the 85-year-old pontiff’s household, testified that she knew immediately that Gabriele was responsible.
She told the court that she could exclude all the other members of the papal family.
Three Vatican gendarmes — Giuseppe Pesce, Gianluca Gauzzi Broccoletti, and Costanzo Alessandrini — testified today about what they found when they raided Paolo Gabriele’s home in May (see below).
Gaenswein said that, among the papers sequestered in Gabriele’s home at the end of May “I saw both photocopies and originals; the earliest originals dated back to the beginning of his service (in 2006)… I saw both copies and originals from the years prior to 2010, from 2006, 2007, 2008.”
This means that Gabriele was collecting documents for years, from the very beginning of his service. And this raises the question of whether, from 2006 to 2012, he ever shared any of the documents with anyone else (any group, or government, or intelligence service) prior to sharing them in 2012 with Gianluigi Nuzzi, the author of the book that came out in May and launched this complex case into the headlines.
The trial will resume tomorrow at 9 am with testimony from four other Vatican policemen — Luca Cintia, Stefano de Santis, Silvano Carli and Luca Bassetti.
Then the trial will (most probably) go into recess on Thursday, October 4 (the day the Pope travels to Loreto).
It is widely believed that the trial will then conclude with just two more sessions, on Friday and Saturday, October 5 and 6, and the final verdict.
Three Issues, Three Puzzles
Three issues emerged with particular force this morning.
(1) The treatment of Gabriele in prison. Were the conditions of Gabriele’s imprisonment after his May 23 arrest inhumane, unworthy of the Vatican and of the Church? Or is this a “non-issue,” an exaggeration by Gabriele and his lawyer?
(2) Accomplices. Even after all these months, it is unclear: Was there a wider “Vatileaks” conspiracy? Did Gabriele act on his own, or with the help of others? Testimony today was inconclusive, but the names of several others in the Vatican who were at least on speaking terms with Gabriele were introduced into the public record, some for the first time.
(3) Motive. Why did Gabriele collect these documents? Some evidence introduced today spoke, or seemed to speak, to this question. One interesting “tidbit” of this type that has not received much attention is the revelation that Gabriele kept a huge archive — evidently hundreds and hundreds of articles and books — on freemasonry and on espionage, and the technique and practice of spying. The archive was discovered in Gabriele’s Vatican City State home when Vatican police searched it in late May. What influence did Gabriele’s study of freemasonry and espionage have on his actions?
1. “Guantanamo” on the Tiber?
Was Gabriele mal-treated during his imprisonment by Vatican officials?
The accused papal butler surprised everyone this morning when he testified that his treatment had been cruel.
He was held for the first 20 days of his imprisonment in a very small cell — not even large enough, he said, for his to stretch his arms out fully.
No measurement of the cell has ever been given, but a man’s outstretched arms reach approximately two yards (outstretched arms are usually almost the same measurement as a person’s height), so Gabriele was saying that his room was less than 6 feet wide. That’s pretty small…
Moreover, Gabriele said, a light in this cell was kept lit around the clock, 24 hours per day. This eventually caused damage to his eyesight, Gabriele stated. There was no switch for him to turn the light off, he said.
“For the first 15-20 days the light was on 24 hours a day and there was no switch,” Gabriele told the court. “As a result my eyesight was damaged.”
Not even a pillow…
On his first night in the “secure room” in the Gendarmerie barracks, “even a pillow was denied me,” he said.
After those first three weeks, he said, he was transferred into a different and larger cell.
The Vatican police force, which consists of 130 officers, all from Italy, quickly issued a statement at about midday today to say that Gabriele had not been badly treated.
His cell was small, yes, but no other room was available for those first days, the police statement said.
Yes, the light was kept on 24/7 — but that was to enable the officers to observe their prisoner and make sure he did not do anything to harm himself, the police said.
Moreover, Gabriele was given a thick eye-mask so that he could shield his eyes from the glare and sleep in full darkness, the police statement added.
The allegations of cruel treatment were picked up in the Italian and world press today.
“Paolo Gabriele trial: Former butler was ‘mistreated’,” the BBC reported.
“Pope’s ex-butler claims he was abused by police as he goes to trial for ‘stealing papal documents from the Vatican’”, wrote the Daily Mail of London.
“Vatican orders probe of police for ‘abuse’ of Pope’s butler after arrest,” was the headline in the Telegraph.
But the truth was that Gabriele was actually given special privileges, the police said.
He was allowed to use the gendarmerie gym, to socialize with officers, many of whom he knew before his arrest, and to attend Mass.
Father Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman, insisted that the size of the cell, and the conditions under which Gabriele was held, conformed to international standards. “He received very humane treatment,” he said.
No photos of the cell have been released.
2. Alone, or in conspiracy?
Gabriele stated firmly today that he had “no accomplices” in gathering the secret documents, or in deciding what to do with them.
So he himself has given testimony against the hypothesis that he was part of a conspiracy.
And yet… and yet…
Any conspirator may be willing to “take a fall” — to allow all the blame to fall on himself, and shield others. So, Gabriele’s denial that he worked with others, by itself, is not proof that he acted alone.
And today, for the first time, Gabriele provided evidence in a contrary direction. He stated that he was in regular contact with several senior Vatican figures, including, especially, two cardinals, Paolo Sardi and Angelo Comastri, and with Ingrid Stampa, a German woman who is a trusted confidante of the Pope and employed in his household, and whose residence happens to be in the same building as Gabriele’s residence. (So the Gabriele family and Stampa are close neighbors.)
However — and this is an interesting point — as Gabriele tried, in his testimony, to recount details of his “network” of contacts, he was repeatedly interrupted by the judge, Giuseppe Dalla Torre.
This is one of the strange things about this case: there has been an expressed desire by Vatican officials to “get to the bottom of it,” but, at different stages of the investigation, and now of the trial, there seems to be a desire to contain the case within pre-determined limits — to not “get to the bottom of it.”
To take another example: Gabriele said today that he made two copies of every secret document during office hours, in plain view of his superiors — he shared his small office with the Pope’s two private secretaries, in the Apostolic Palace.
But on Saturday, when his lawyer asked to have an office plan inserted into the trial record (evidently to help support the argument that Gabriele did everything out in the open, that he did not steal anything surreptitiously, like creep into the Vatican at 3 in the morning and, in the darkened hallways, click pictures of documents with an Iphone), the judge overruled the request and refused to allow the office plan to be entered as evidence.
Moreover, Gabriele testified today that, when he made the two copies of each document, he gave one copy to his “confessor.”
Well, this “confessor” remains a mystery figure. He is identified only as “Padre Giovanni.” He is said to have burned the entire stack of documents after he realized that they had been stolen. Why is this person not identified and asked to testify? Would that not be one more “loose end” of this case to tie up, if the Vatican is truly to “get to the bottom” of it?
So, Paolo insisted in court today that he acted totally on his own, alone.
But he then immediately added that he had “many contacts” in the Vatican, where there was “widespread unease.”
This sounds like Gabriele had to have engaged at least in conversations with these “contacts” (to hear them express their unease).
Therefore, during such conversations, these people may also have advised Gabriele to do something with the documents he was collecting — like hand them over to a journalist for publication. (In fact, we have no clarity on how Gabriele got in touch with Nuzzi, the author of the book on the secret documents. How did the two make contact? Who brought them together? We don’t know.)
The Vatican’s Promotor of Justice, Judge Nicola Picardi, asked Gabriele if these “uneasy” people in the Vatican had just chatted with him, or actually “collaborated” with him.
Gabriele replied that that “reconstruction” of the alternatives was inadequate, but he denied that anyone collaborated with him.
Still, regarding these “contacts” who did not “collaborate” with Gabriele, would it not make sense to have public testimony from some of them? Are any being called to the stand? No, not one…
“I was looking for someone in a position of authority to whom I could let off steam in confidence,” Gabriele told the court today. “The situation inside the Vatican had become intolerable — not only to me. There were many other people who felt the same way as I did.”
What “intolerable” situation Gabriele is referring to? We do not learn more.
We do know, however, that Gabriele, speaking in January on an Italian television program (his face was covered and his voice scrambled so he would not be identified, but it is now known that it was him) referred, among other things, to the case of the murder of the Commandant of the Swiss Guard on May 4, 1998. On that night, Alois Estermann, along with his wife, Gladys, were shot to death in their home in the Swiss Guard barracks, allegedly by the young Swiss Guard Cedric Tornay, who then in turn is said to have committed suicide. Gabriele said in January, evidently referring to that incident, that the Vatican is a place where “you can commit a murder and then disappear into the void.” So we gather that Gabriele — who, we should not forget, was at the very side of the Pope for the past six years — has his doubts about the Vatican’s official interpretation of the events of May 4, 1998.
This morning, as Gabriele was beginning to explain in more detail why he felt Pope Benedict was not sufficiently informed about “certain matters,” the president of the three-man tribunal again stopped him.
This was not relevant to the charge of aggravated theft, the judge said.
Gabriele also said during his testimony: “I was not the only one over a period of years to provide documents to the press.”
This sounds like others in the Vatican have done what Gabriele is charged with doing, but have not been caught, or prosecuted. Again, Gabriele was not asked to elaborate on this point.
Gabriele has pleaded “innocent” to the charge he faces.
“In relation to the accusation of aggravated theft, I declare myself innocent,” Gabriele told the court this morning.
“But I feel guilty of having betrayed the trust of the Holy Father, whom I love like a son (would love a father),” he added.
This is the point at which this trial, and this entire case, becomes odd, perplexing.
We have here a person acting in a way that seems to harm the Pope and the Church — he obtains and then allows the publication of secret documents, causing a worldwide scandal.
But this person says he has no desire at all to harm the Pope or the Church; indeed, that he loves the Pope “like a son.”
How are we to understand this apparent paradox?
One way would be to propose this hypothesis: that Gabriele was in some way “advised” to act in this way, by others whom he trusted.
That is, that he was part of a larger group, a current or party inside the Vatican, a group of “conspirators” — literally, people “animated by one breath” or “one spirit,” people “breathing together” — and did not act alone. (Of course, another hypothesis would be that Gabriele is not telling the truth, that he does not love the Pope, but hoped to gain wealth, or fame, or something else, from this action; or even that he is mentally unstable, as some in Rome have whispered, and written, so that any attempt to attribute a reasonable motive to him would be a priori doomed to failure.)
But the thesis of a conspiracy is a thesis that seems to be excluded by everyone involved in the trial — almost as if the very word is “taboo.”
Among the thousands of pages of documents found in his home, “very many concerned freemasonry and secret services,” one of the Vatican police officers testified in court today.
Also found were manuals with instructions for how to keep someone under surveillance and follow them through a city. There were also dossiers on the internal workings of the Vatican police, and on the disappearance of Emanuela Orlandi, a 15-year-old girl, daughter of a Vatican resident, who disappeared without a trace in 1983 and has never been heard from again.
The second day of the trial, Tuesday, October 2, 2012
Here is the clear CNS report on what happened at the first hearing in this trial, which took place Tuesday morning, October 2:
Papal butler says he’s innocent of theft, but guilty of betraying Pope
Pope Benedict XVI’s former butler, Paolo Gabriele, seated in gray suit, is pictured during the opening of his trial at the Vatican September 29. (CNS/L’Osservatore Romano)
By Cindy Wooden and Carol Glatz
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Paolo Gabriele, the papal butler charged with stealing and leaking papal correspondence, said he was innocent of charges of aggravated theft, but “I feel guilty for having betrayed the trust the Holy Father placed in me.”
“I loved him like a son,” Gabriele said of the Pope during the second day of his trial.
The morning session of the trial October 2 also featured brief testimony by Cristina Cernetti, one of the consecrated laywomen who work in the papal apartment; and longer testimony by Msgr. Georg Ganswein, Pope Benedict XVI’s personal secretary.
Msgr. Ganswein, who described himself as “extremely precise,” said he never noticed any documents missing, but when he examined what Vatican police had confiscated from Gabriele’s Vatican apartment, he discovered both photocopies and originals of documents going back to 2006, when Gabriele began working in the papal apartment.
Taking the stand first, Gabriele said widespread concern about what was happening in the Vatican led him to collect photocopies of private papal correspondence and, eventually, to leak it to a journalist.
“I was looking for a person with whom I could vent about a situation that had become insupportable for many in the Vatican,” he testified October 2.
Gabriele told the court that no one encouraged him to steal and leak the documents.
Although he said he acted on his own initiative, Gabriele told the court he did so after “sharing confidences” about the “general atmosphere” in the Vatican with four people in particular: retired Cardinal Paolo Sardi, a former official in the Vatican Secretariat of State; Cardinal Angelo Comastri, archpriest of St. Peter’s Basilica; Ingrid Stampa, a longtime assistant to Pope Benedict XVI, going back to his time as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger; and Bishop Francesco Cavina of Carpi, who worked in the Secretariat of State until 2011.
Gabriele said that although he had set aside some documents previously, he began collecting them seriously in 2010 after Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, then secretary-general of Vatican City State, was reported to have run into resistance in his attempt to bring spending under control and bring transparency to the process of granting work contracts to outside companies. The archbishop is now nuncio, or ambassador, to the United States.
Asked to describe his role in the papal household, Gabriele said he served Pope Benedict his meals, informed the Vatican Secretariat of State of the gifts given to the pope, packed the Pope’s suitcases and accompanied him on trips, and did other “small tasks” assigned to him by Msgr. Ganswein.
“I was the layman closest to the Holy Father, there to respond to his immediate needs,” Gabriele said.
Being so close to the Pope, Gabriele said he became aware of how “easy it is to manipulate the one who holds decision-making power in his hands.”
Gabriele had told investigators that he had acted out of concern for the Pope, who he believed was not being fully informed about the corruption and careerism in the Vatican. Under questioning by his lawyer, he said he never showed any of the documents to the Pope, but tried — conversationally — to bring some concerns to the Pope’s attention.
The Vatican prosecutor objected to any further questioning about Gabriele’s motives, saying they “don’t matter, we must discuss the facts.”
The judges agreed and ordered the defendant’s lawyer to move on.
Gabriele’s lawyer also asked him several questions about the 60 days he spent in Vatican detention, including whether or not it was true that he first was held in a tiny room and that, for the first 15-20 days, the Vatican police left the lights on 24 hours a day. Gabriele said both were true.
Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, later told reporters that Judge Nicola Picardi, the Vatican prosecutor, had opened an investigation into the conditions under which Gabriele was detained.
Vatican investigators had said they found in Gabriele’s Vatican apartment three items given to Pope Benedict as gifts: a check for 100,000 euros ($123,000); a nugget — presumably of gold — from the director of a gold mining company in Peru; and a 16th-century edition of a translation of the Aeneid.
Gabriele denied the nugget was ever in his apartment, and he said he had no idea how the check got there. As for the book, he said it was normal for him to take home books given to the Pope to show his children.
“I didn’t know its value,” and, in fact, he carried it around in a plastic bag, he said.
Msgr. Ganswein testified that he only began suspecting Gabriele in mid-May after a journalist published documents Msgr. Ganswein knew had never left the office he shared with Gabriele.
When Msgr. Ganswein entered the courtroom and when he left again, Gabriele stood. He did not do so for the other witnesses.
The trial formally opened September 29 and Vatican judges decided to separate Gabriele’s trial on charges of aggravated theft from the trial of Claudio Sciarpelletti, a computer expert in the Vatican Secretariat of State, charged with aiding and abetting Gabriele.
Gabriele was arrested in May after Vatican police found papal correspondence and other items in his Vatican apartment; many of the documents dealt with allegations of corruption, abuse of power and a lack of financial transparency at the Vatican.
The papal valet — who is 46, married and has three children — faces up to four years of jail time, which he would serve in an Italian prison.
October 1, 2012, Monday — The “Vatileaks” Trial Begins
The perplexing “Vatileaks” case: tomorrow, Tuesday, October 2, will be the first day of actual testimony in the trial of the Pope’s former butler
An “iconic moment” will occur in a tiny Vatican courtroom tomorrow morning, if all goes according to schedule.
The Pope’s personal secretary for the past nine years (since 2003), Monsignor Georg Gaenswein, 56 (photo above with Pope Benedict) will come face to face with Paolo Gabriele, 46, the “butler” of Pope Benedict XVI for six years, from 2006 until this spring (photo below, holding an umbrella over the Pope).
Gaenswein is being summoned to give testimony in the trial of Gabriele, who is charged with betraying the Pope’s trust and stealing sensitive documents from his very desk, then turning them over to a journalist for publication, a crime for which, under the laws of the Vatican City State (remember, a separate country under international law) he could face as much as six years in prison (such a sentence would, however, be served in an Italian jail under the terms of Vatican-Italy agreements).
Gaenswein is a key witness against Gabriele.
The two were face to face once before.
Four months ago, in late May (on May 21, to be precise), just after a book by Italian journalist Gianluigi Nuzzi, entitled His Holiness: The Secret Papers of Pope Benedict XVI (cover above) had appeared in Italy, Gaenswein after leafing through the pages of the book, saw a document (related to a foundation named after the Pope, it is said in Rome) which had been on his desk only, and nowhere else in the Vatican.
Gaenswein realized at that moment — it is said — that the document had to have been taken by someone inside the papal household itself.
He called the members of the household together: the Pope’s other secretary, Fr. Alfred Xuereb; the four Italian women “Memores Domini” (literally, “Rememberers of the Lord,” those who concentrate their lives on remembering the life and work of Christ, a group of consecrated lay people within the Communion and Liberation movement) who serve in the Vatican apartments and cook the Pope’s meals; Birgit Wansing; and Gabriele.
There, in front of the others, Ganswein accused Gabriele of having taken the document from his desk.
According to Gaenswein’s reconstruction of events, in an account published by the Vatican as part of the public indictment, the Pope’s former butler denied any responsibility, even after Gaenswein openly said “You did it,” or words to that effect.
In tomorrow’s hearing, judges will ask Gaenswein to reconstruct these events, to make clear that only “Paoletto” (“little Paul,” the Pope’s nickname for Paolo Gabriele, shown here in the Vatican courtroom on Saturday morning, Sepetmber 29) could have had at least these two of the documents that were published by Nuzzi.
By May 23, Gabriele was under arrest. He was held through June and July, then allowed to return to his home in Vatican City, not far from the St. Anne’s Gate, where he lives with his wife and three children, pending trial.
Now the trial is beginning, and tomorrow will be the first testimony, and Gaenswein will be among the handful of witnesses called.
The Role of the Secretary
The Pope, as supreme teacher and ruler of the universal Church, has final and, indeed, infallible authority (as Vatican I taught) — when speaking “ex cathedra” — over Church doctrine, and is also the supreme legislator of the Church.
This authority and, in a manner of speaking, power, invested in one man, means that the role of those close to the Pope, protecting him from overwork and from matters that might otherwise consume too much of his precious time, becomes of very great importance, in practical, administrative terms.
And so the papal personal secretary becomes the “gate-keeper” of the Pope.
And this, of course, may, and does, cause friction.
For example, a person who wishes to speak directly with the Pope, and finds it difficult, or impossible, to have an audience, or to get a message directly to the Holy Father, may feel considerable frustration.
One of the many mysteries in this case is that Gabriele — who was in daily personal contact with Pope Benedict — has claimed that he felt he was acting out of “love for the Church, and the Holy Father,” by copying or stealing the documents that Nuzzi published.
This has raised eyebrows. How could Gabriele see what he did, or seems to have done, in these terms?
In his self-explanation, Gabriele has siad he felt the Church needed a “shock” in order to confront a number of problems and issues, and that he concluded that publishing the details of certain controversies might provide that “shock.”
The Two Secretaries
As Italian journalists have written, Gaenswein — like his predecessor, Father (now Cardinal Archbishop of Cracow, Poland) Stanislaw Dziwisz, Pope John Paul II’s personal secretary throughout his long pontificate — plays an important role in the Vatican Curia, the Pope’s court.
In 2007, Gaenswein described a meeting he had had in 2005 with Dziwisz, shortly after John Paul’s death, to “learn the ropes” of being the Pope’s secretary. (Gaenswein was speaking to his fellow German countryman, Peter Seewald, author of important book-length interviews with Pope Benedict, two when he was a cardinal.)
“There is no papal school of thought,” Gaenswein told Seewald. “I just had a face to face meeting with my predecessor.” (This meeting took place about two weeks after Gaenswein was appointed and entered the papal apartment, so evidently in early May, 2005.) “Fr. Stanislaw gave me an envelope containing some letters and the key to a safe, a very old German safe; then all he said to me was: ‘You have a very important and wonderful but very, very difficult task ahead of you. All I can say to you is that the Pope must not be crushed by anything or anyone; you will have to work out for yourself how to ensure this doesn’t happen.’”
The content of the envelope Gaenswein received remains top secret: “It contains things that are passed on from one papal secretary to the next,” Gaenswein told Seewald.
The first hearing on Saturday, September 29
Here is the clear CNS report on what happened at the first hearing in this trial, which took place Saturday morning, September 29:
VATICAN CITY, September 29, 2012 (CNS) — A Vatican tribunal determined the two suspects indicted for their parts in the VatiLeaks’ scandal should be tried separately.
During the opening session of the trial September 29, the judges said the trial against Paolo Gabriele, the papal assistant charged with aggravated theft, would continue October 2. A separate trial for Claudio Sciarpelletti on charges of aiding and abetting Gabriele will be scheduled at a later date, they said.
Giuseppe Dalla Torre, the presiding judge, said four more sessions “next week should be sufficient” for completing Gabriele’s trial.
Gabriele, a 46-year-old married father of three, will be the first person to be questioned October 2. No members of Gabriele’s family were present for the trial’s opening.
Although under Vatican law a defendant is not obliged to appear in person, Gabriele — dressed in a light gray suit and tie — was present in the courtroom September 29.
Sciarpelletti, a computer technician in the Vatican Secretariat of State, was represented by his lawyer, who said his client fell ill unexpectedly because he felt too nervous.
The trial’s first session, in a small Vatican courtroom just to the southwest of the apse of St. Peter’s Basilica, lasted two and a half hours, which included an 80-minute break during which the judges went behind closed doors to consider the motions and objections made by the defense lawyers as the trial opened. They decided:
– The court would exclude evidence from two interviews Domenico Giani, head of the Vatican police force, conducted with Gabriele while in custody because they were done without the presence of his lawyers.
– The court would exclude information gathered during a conversation between Giani and Msgr. Georg Ganswein, the Pope’s secretary, concerning how Gabriele allegedly obtained a check for 100,000 euro (almost $123,000) and a nugget of what’s presumed to be gold, which were reportedly found in Gabriele’s possession.
Meanwhile, the judges rejected other motions entered by the defense, including:
– A request for a ruling that a security camera installed on the landing outside Gabriele’s Vatican apartment lacked the proper authorization from Vatican judges.
– A request to enter into evidence transcripts of interviews conducted by a papally appointed commission of cardinals to investigate how information is handled and released by various Vatican offices. The judges determined the cardinal’s work was a matter concerning the Catholic Church and not Vatican City State.
– An argument that the judges were not competent to hear a case which could involve matters falling under the so-called “pontifical secret” because, the judges said, the contents of the stolen documents were not the object of the investigation.
– A motion to overturn the indictment on the basis that it was too “generic.”
– A request for the floor plan of Msgr. Ganswein’s office. The judges cited security concerns in denying the request.
The judges also said they would rule on other motions at a later date, including:
– Whether to accept evidence gathered from the apartment Gabriele used when he was with the pope at Castel Gandolfo. The defense said the material was gathered without informing the defendant or his lawyers.
– Whether or not to test the presumed gold nugget for fingerprints.
At the beginning of the trial — which opened with the ringing of a small bell and the announcement, “The trial is open” — the presiding judge called the names of the 13 people asked to testify either by the court or by the defense teams.
Eight witnesses will be called to testify in Gabriele’s trial and five are set to be called for Sciarpelletti’s case.
The Gabriele witness list includes six Vatican police officers, as well as Msgr. Ganswein and Cristina Cernetti, one of the consecrated laywomen who work in the papal household. Neither of them was present in the courtroom.
The Sciarpelletti witness list includes: Gabriele; Giani; Maj. William Kloter, vice commander of the Swiss Guard; and Msgr. Carlo Maria Polvani, head of the information and communications section of the Vatican Secretariat of State.
With about 30 people — including the judges and lawyers — present, the small Vatican courtroom was full. There was no jury because a Vatican trial is decided by a three-judge panel.
The Vatican television center and Vatican newspaper photographer provided media with images from the opening minutes of the trial, which was not broadcast.
Although Vatican trials do not begin with defendants entering a plea of “guilty” or “not guilty,” before the judges ruled to separate the two trials Sciarpelletti’s defense lawyer said his client has declared himself innocent. The lawyer, Gianluca Benedetti, pointed out that, in fact, Sciarpelletti told investigators the envelope found in his desk came from Gabriele, which pointed the investigation in that direction. In addition, he said, the information in the envelope was not confidential and had already been made public.
In the indictment, Vatican investigators said Sciarpelletti changed his story during interrogation, claiming at one point that a monsignor gave him the envelope to give to Gabriele. Sciarpelletti, 48, faces a maximum of one year in prison.
When Benedetti told the court his client and Gabriele weren’t close friends, but just acquaintances, Gabriele nodded his head.
Gabriele was arrested in May after Vatican police found papal correspondence and other items in his Vatican apartment; he faces up to four years in prison. Most of the documents dealt with allegations of corruption, abuse of power and a lack of financial transparency at the Vatican.
Giani told the court the papers collected from Gabriele’s apartment filled 82 boxes. Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, told reporters the boxes were different sizes and that most of the material in them was not pertinent to the case.
Gabriele, who did not make any declaration regarding his guilt or innocence during the opening session, had admitted to Vatican investigators that he took the material and leaked it to a journalist; he claimed he did so for the good of the Church and of the Pope. His previous lawyer told reporters he had sent a personal letter to Pope Benedict in July, seeking forgiveness.
Under Vatican City law, a confession is not absolute proof of guilty. The trial is designed to verify the information gathered during the investigation, including the interrogation of Gabriele.