File photo - Pope Benedict XVI's former butler Paolo Gabriele.

Vatican City -

The Vatican was set to rule on Monday on whether Pope Benedict XVI's former butler must stand trial for stealing and leaking confidential papers in the latest scandal to afflict the Church.

Paolo Gabriele, who was arrested in May on suspicion of stealing secret documents from the pope's office and leaking them to journalists, is likely to be charged with “aggravated theft”, according to his lawyers.

The decision will be made public at a press conference given by the Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi, scheduled for 11.00 GMT. Prosecutor Nicola Picardi's indictment and judge Piero Bonnet's sentencing will then be released.

Gabriele risks up to six years in prison. If the trial goes ahead, it would not take place until October at the earliest, the Vatican has said.

The 46-year-old butler was arrested during an investigation into the leak of private papal documents to the media. He was held for 53 days in a Vatican cell before being put under house arrest in July to await the judge's decision.

The Vatican said after his arrest it had found documents and copying equipment in Gabriele's home, revelations which shocked the close-knit Holy See community and saddened the aged pontiff. - Sapa-AFP