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Pope’s ex-butler goes on trial for leaked papers


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There is no indication how long the trial will last, how many witnesses will be called or what Gabriele’s defense will be given that he has, according to prosecutors, confessed to taking the documents.

Giacobbe noted that in the Vatican legal system, a confession is not enough to convict and that it must correspond with the other evidence uncovered during the investigation.

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Prosecutors did order a psychiatric evaluation and determined that Gabriele was conscious of his actions, although they quoted the psychiatrists as saying he was unsuited for his job, was easily manipulated and suffered from "a grave psychological unease characterized by restlessness, tension, anger and frustrations."

Despite the peculiarities of the Vatican’s legal system and the pope’s absolute authority over all things legislative, executive and judicial, at least one outside authority has deemed it credible and fair: A federal judge in New York last year dismissed a lawsuit against the Vatican concerning rights to reproduce images from the Vatican library, ruling that the plaintiffs failed to show they couldn’t get a fair hearing in the Vatican courts.

There has been no such vote of confidence for the Vatican’s onetime Congregation for the Holy Roman and Universal Inquisition, the commission created in 1542 that functioned as a tribunal to root out heresy, punish crimes against the faith and name Inquisitors for the church.

One of its more famous victims was Giordano Bruno, burned in Rome in 1600 after being tried for heresy.




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