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Vatican trial: Pope wanted stolen papers destroyed, police say

The pope's former butler is accused of stealing thousands of private papal documents. In the "Vatileaks" trial that has captured the world, Paolo Gabriele tells the court why he did it. NBC's Michelle Kosinki reports.

Members of the Vatican police force said Wednesday that some of the documents found at the home of Pope Benedict XVI's former butler were signed by the pope with a note that they should be destroyed. Some of the papers were about the pontiff's "private life," an officer said.

The police were testifying in the trial of Paolo Gabriele, the pope's once-trusted butler who faces four years in prison if convicted of aggravated theft for stealing papal documents and leaking them to a journalist in the so-called "Vatileaks" affair.

Officers also said that the theft of encrypted Vatican documents had compromised some Vatican operations, and that Gabriele had printed instructions on how to hide computer files and use cellphones secretly. 

The final four witnesses were heard Wednesday and closing arguments are set for Saturday, when a verdict by the three-judge Vatican panel is expected.

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Vatican police inspector Silvano Carli said that of the hundreds of thousands of documents seized from Gabriele's home — they filled 82 moving boxes — about 1,000 were of interest since they were original or photocopied Vatican documents.

Some came from the pope's office, some carried the processing codes of the secretariat of state, others originated in various Vatican congregations "and some documents concerned the total privacy and private life of the Holy Father," said police officer Stefano De Santis.

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He said some of the originals carried the pope's handwriting with a note to destroy them written in German. Some were reproduced in journalist Gianluigi Nuzzi's book "His Holiness: Pope Benedict XVI's secret papers," he said.

Freemasony, yoga, Vatican bank
The rest of the documentation concerned esoteric religious issues and academic research into Freemasonry, Christianity, Buddhism, yoga and politicians, as well as the Vatican Bank, the officers said.

"See how much I like to read and study," De Santis quoted Gabriele as telling the officers during the search of his home.

Pope Benedict's XVI former butler took the stand in a Vatican courtroom and admitted to stealing private documents from the papal apartment, but  Paulo Gabriele said he didn't feel guilty of aggravated theft.  He also said he feels guilty of betraying the pontiff's trust.  NBC's Claudio Lavanga reports.  

Prosecutors have said Gabriele, a devout 46-year-old father of three, confessed to leaking copies of the documents to Nuzzi because he wanted to expose the "evil and corruption" in the church to help put it back on the right path.

Gabriele said Tuesday he stood by his June 5 confession and acknowledged he betrayed the pope's trust, but he nevertheless pleaded innocent to the charge of aggravated theft.

Pope Benedict: 'Sadness in my heart' over butler leak scandal

The security breach within the pope's own entourage has been one of the most damaging scandals of his seven-year papacy.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

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