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 said 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 Stanislaw Dziwisz (now Cardinal Archbishop of Cracow, Poland), 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: