The Holy See’s former auditor general has said he was forced to step down earlier this year after uncovering possible illegal activity, but Vatican officials have accused him of spying.

Libero Milone claimed that he was ousted over false accusations by those opposed to reform. He told reporters he was speaking out because “I couldn’t allow any longer a small group of powers to [defame] my reputation for their shady games. I wanted to do good for the Church, to reform it like I was asked, but they wouldn’t let me.

“I believe the Pope is a great person, and he began with the best of intentions. But I’m afraid he was blocked by the old guard that’s still entirely there, which felt threatened when it understood that I could tell the Pope and [Cardinal Pietro] Parolin what I’d seen with my own eyes in the accounts.”

But Archbishop Giovanni Becciu, the Vatican’s deputy secretary of state, told Reuters that Mr Milone’s claims were “false and unjustified”. He said: “He went against all the rules and was spying on the private lives of his superiors and staff, including me. If he had not agreed to resign, we would have prosecuted him.”

Vatican police chief Domenico Giani said there was “overwhelming evidence” against Mr Milone. The Vatican press office also accused him of “fail[ing] to uphold the agreement on confidentiality about the reasons for his resignation”.

Mr Milone, a former chairman at Deloitte, the accountancy firm, claimed he had been forced out after investigating a possible conflict of interest involving an Italian cardinal.

​How to continue reading…

This article appears in the Catholic Herald magazine - to read it in full subscribe to our digital edition from just 30p a week

The Catholic Herald is your essential weekly guide to the Catholic world; latest news, incisive opinion, expert analysis and spiritual reflection