The Catholic Church's former prosecutor of priests accused of child sex abuse, believes that Pope Benedict XVI "anticipated his death" in a bid to remove the Vatican's chief antagonists.
Mgr Charles Scicluna, whose high-profile role as promoter of justice in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, came to an end in 2012 when he was transferred to Malta to be auxiliary bishop, was speaking to Italy's Corriere della Sera in what sounds like a candid audio recording with the journalist.
Source: Corriere dell Sera - click here for original story.
It is not clear whether the recording was an off-the-record conversation.
"To me it seems that he wants to give space to a person that can take the situation in hand in a way that he cannot presently ensure for the Church," Scicluna is heard telling the journalist when asked about the investigations into paedophilia inside Catholic churches.
When asked whether there were people around Benedict that could not fully trust, Scicluna replies:
"If he goes, these people will also go. Maybe, not being able to decapitate everyone, he chose to go himself... it will be the next pope to handle the matter."
Scicluna even entertains the prospect that Benedict, formerly his superior in the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith when he was Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, might have "committed a coup d'etat".
"Yes, he did a revolutionary thing. He anticipated his death," Scicluna says, referring to the Vatileaks scandal and the involvement of unknown "third parties" in the leak of documents and other claims of blackmail of high-profile bishops.
Scicluna was appointed auxiliary bishop to Malta in October 2012, a decision which - going by his words to the Corriere della Sera - was not that he was party to.
"Yes they could [have left me in Rome], but they didn't. I never asked for anything. When I was asked whether I could go to Malta, I said yes, instantly... it was not [my decision]."
In an interview on the eve of his departure, Scicluna insisted his promotion to auxiliary bishop in Malta was simply "a very good" promotion, that his hardline stance against sex abuse would remain because it was the Pope's stance as well. "This is policy. It's not Scicluna. It's the pope. And this will remain," he told the Associated Press. "If you want to silence someone, you don't make him a bishop."