Pope Benedict XVI butler Paolo Gabriele goes on trial

    10:14 AM, Sep 28, 2012   |    comments
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    VATICAN CITY (CBS) -- Pope Benedict's former butler goes on trial this weekend at the Vatican. He's accused of stealing letters from the pontiff and leaking them to the Italian media.

    Paolo Gabriele was once part of the Pope's inner circle. Now, the ex-butler faces trial for aggravated theft and could spend up to 4 years in prison.

    Legal analyst Jack Ford says, "The Pope had a little nickname for him, he would serve the Pope his meals, help him dress."

    Gabriele admits he leaked secret Vatican papers to the media. But says he did it, "as an agent of the holy spirit" to help clean up corruption in the Catholic Church.

    A three judge panel will decide the fate of the former butler in a small courtroom inside Vatican City.

    They will review evidence including a $130,000 check to the Pope and other gifts police seized from Gabriele's apartment.

    No cameras will be allowed.

    The 46-year-old was often at the Pope's side on trips and among just 10 people with a key to the pontiff's apartments. The alleged breach of trust is the biggest in recent Vatican history.

    And some think other powerful people are involved in the scandal. The Tablet writer Robert Mickens says, "I can't find anyone who really believes that the Popes butler Paolo Gabriele is solely responsible that he concocted this scheme for stealing papers of the Pope."

    Before his fall from grace, Gabriele rose from a cleaner at the Vatican to become the Pope's personal butler.

    Pope Benedict has the power to free the man he affectionately called 'little Paul.' And it's widely believed the pontiff will offer his forgiveness with a pardon. Even though Gabriele has confessed, the Vatican legal system does not allow pleas bargains.

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