The Pope’s Butler Testifies: Innocent of Theft, Guilty of Betrayal?

Time has just published my story on the testimony the Pope’s butler gave during his trial.

Before Paolo Gabriele turned himself in to Vatican authorities for passing Pope Benedict XVI’s personal papers to the press last May, he wanted to do one last thing. “I needed to surrender myself to the authorities, but I didn’t know how,” the former butler to the Pope recalled on Tuesday, during testimony in the trial against him. “The first step was spiritual. I went to a confessor and explained what I had done.”

Gabriele, a layman with a wife and three children, was calm and sometimes smiling during the three hours he spent giving evidence in the second day of his trial on charges of aggravated theft. He wore a light gray suit. His face was thin, barely a shade darker than the cream-colored wall of the courtroom behind him. As butler, Gabriele could hardly have been in a more intimate position with the head of the Catholic Church. He had served the Pope his meals, helped him pack for trips and, when the weather turned foul, he had held the umbrella that protected the Pontiff from the rain. “Concerning the accusation of aggravated theft, I declare myself innocent,” he said. “I feel guilty for having betrayed the trust vested in me by the Holy Father, whom I loved as if I were his son.”

Read the rest.