The resignation of Mgr Dario Viganò, the head of the Secretariat for Communications, has revealed tensions within the Vatican over Pope Francis’s reforms.

In a controversy that was quickly dubbed “Lettergate”, Mgr Viganò had selectively quoted a letter from Benedict XVI. The Pope Emeritus wrote a response after Mgr Viganò asked for an endorsement of a new series of books on Pope Francis’s theology.

Benedict’s letter was marked “confidential”, according to the journalist Andrea Tornielli of La Stampa. It is not known whether Mgr Viganò sought Benedict’s permission before publishing parts of the letter.

But his decision to release an edited text – and of his staff to blur a photograph of the letter – led to him losing his position. It emerged that Benedict had refused to write an endorsement, and had criticised the choice of authors. The refusal, though mentioned at the press conference, was omitted from the material given to journalists; the criticism wasn’t mentioned at all.

In his resignation letter, the official, who was appointed to lead the Secretariat for Communications in 2015, said his work had caused “much controversy” which “beyond my intentions, destabilises the complex and great work of reform that you have entrusted to me and which now, thanks to the contribution of many people starting from the staff, is to its final stretch”.

Mgr Viganò will still play a part in the reform process: Pope Francis has asked him to remain within the department as an “assessor”, an undefined role which will involve making a “human and professional contribution” to the media reform.

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