Will Vatican leaks reveal pope's battle for reform?

Last Updated Nov 3, 2015 7:04 AM EST

At the center of the controversy surrounding leaked Vatican documents is a pair of books due out later this week. CBS news obtained a copy Tuesday of the more explosive of the two, in which author Gianluigi Nuzzi lays out what he calls "a true battle between good and evil."

In his book, titled "Merchants at the Temple," Nuzzi says Pope Francis' efforts to reform the administration of the Catholic Church have seen battle lines drawn; "the Pope's men are lined up on one side, while on the other are his enemies, the defenders of the status quo, adverse to any and all change."

CBS News correspondent Barry Petersen reports that change began shortly after Pope Francis was elected. He set up a special commission to examine the Vatican's finances. The book claims the commission, known by the acronym COSEA, found numerous shortcomings and areas where there was virtually no accounting for how money was spent.

Nuzzi also singles out in the book, "the procedures for beatification and canonization -- a marketplace in which millions of dollars change hands."

The Vatican's response to the book has been two-fold; first, a statement attacking both of the new books as "the fruit of a grave betrayal of the pope's trust."

Second, the Vatican police force arrested two people who were on the commission, a Spanish priest and a woman who served as a public relations expert for COSEA. It's believed they leaked information on the commission, including actual recordings of the pope at private meetings.

Candida Moss, a professor of theology at the University of Notre Dame, told CBS News that while the arrests just days before the books' release may give the appearance that the new pope is "in line with everyone else in the church," in fact "the actual revelations themselves only promote him as someone who has been trying to change the atmosphere and culture at the Vatican."

The second book, called "Avarice," details a lavish lifestyle for Vatican officials. Incidents like a $26,000 helicopter ride for the Vatican's then Secretary of State -- who was later fired from his job by Pope Francis.

In the end, Francis' efforts at cleaning up the Vatican's administration may be helped by the revelations.

"There must be a cleanup of Vatican finances," said Moss. "So in a way, Pope Francis comes out as looking quite good."

There are other allegations in the books, notes Petersen, including one that the corruption at the Vatican was one of the main reasons Pope Benedict resigned. Another claims that $400,000 sent in by individual churches to help the poor was instead used to pay Vatican department expenses.