September 29, 2012 7:55 AM

VATICAN CITY — The Vatican opened the public trial Saturday of the pope’s butler for allegedly stealing and leaking papal correspondence to a journalist, the most embarrassing scandal of Pope Benedict XVI’s papacy.

Paolo Gabriele, a 46-year-old father of three, faces up to four years in prison if he is convicted of aggravated theft in the worst security breach in the Vatican’s recent history.

He has already confessed, saying he acted to shed light on what he called “evil and corruption” in the church, and asked to be pardoned by the pope — something Vatican watchers say is a given if he is convicted.

Saturday’s proceedings ended before their scheduled three hours were up, and were slated to resume Tuesday. The trial is expected to be over by the end of the week, though the length of the trial will depend in large part on the number of objections to the indictment and witness lists.

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