The Vatican's outgoing Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, has hit out at his enemies, claiming that he was surrounded by "crows and vipers" who undermined him, reports The UK Telegrah in The Sydney Morning Herald.
Defending his record despite a series of scandals, Cardinal Bertone, 78, also appeared to suggest that any blame for errors should be shared by Pope Benedict XVI, who appointed him as secretary of state, effectively his number two, in 2006.
The backlash followed the surprise announcement on Saturday that Pope Francis had named Archbishop Pietro Parolin, 58, currently nuncio in Venezuela, as Cardinal Bertone's replacement, with a handover due next month.
Cardinal Bertone's tenure culminated with the leaking by Benedict's butler of papal correspondence last year. Among the documents were claims that Cardinal Bertone ran a Vatican riven by petty rivalries, corruption and mismanagement.
But speaking on the sidelines of a mass being celebrated on Sunday in Sicily, Cardinal Bertone chose to fight back. "On balance I consider these seven years to have been positive," he said. "Naturally there were problems, particularly in the last two years, they have made many accusations against me... A mix of crows and vipers."
He said while it might seem like the secretary of state "decides and controls everything", that was not the case. "There were matters that got out of control because they were problems which were sealed within the management of certain people who did not contact the secretary of state," he said.
"I always gave everything but certainly I had my shortcomings and if I could relive certain moments now I would act differently. But that does not mean that I did not try to serve the Church."