One of Pope Francis's own cardinals has launched a scathing attack on his boss and has slammed him as an "ice-cold, cunning Machiavellian liar."
The Daily Mail reports that the anonymous cardinal made the bombshell allegations to German magazine Der Spiegel.
This week's Der Spiegel magazine features an image of the pope on the cover alongside the banner headline, "Du Sollst Nicht Lügen" (Thou Shalt Not Lie).
The publication interviewed the cardinal for a 19-page in-depth feature on the sexual abuse scandal which has rocked the Catholic Church.
Pope Francis is branded a "Machiavellian liar" by the cardinal who insists the pontiff knew about the sexual abuse allegations against U.S. Cardinal Theodore McCarrick long before he employed him.
"The pope preaches mercy, but in reality he is an ice-cold, cunning Machiavellian, and, what is worse – he lies."The feature in Der Siegel is fiercely critical of the pope's handling of abuse allegations in general and states, "He often speaks at inopportune moments, yet in important moments remains silent."
Last week in Estonia, the pope admitted that people are turning away from the Catholic Church in disgust at the sex abuse scandals which have dragged it down into the mire. He acknowledged that the church must change or risk alienating further generations.
"We ourselves need to be converted; we have to realize that in order to stand by your side we need to change many situations that, in the end, put you off."According to a report for the German Bishops' Conference, the Catholic Church was said to have been involved in the abuse of 3,700 minors between 1946 and 2014 in Germany alone.
Germany's Catholic Church is expected to apologize this week to the thousands of children who were reportedly abused at its hands.
Justice Minister Katarina Barley explained, "The scale of the abuse is shocking and probably just the tip of the iceberg. I urge the Church to 'take responsibility for decades of concealment, cover-ups and denials.'"
Germany's independent commissioner for child sex abuse issues, Johannes-Wilhelm Roerig, has recommended that it is the duty of state authorities to intervene and investigate church files to ensure those who were abused are awarded compensation.
Cardinal Reinhard Marx commented earlier this month that bishops in Germany were appalled at what had been happening all these years.
"We are deeply depressed, shaken, and ashamed before the reality of sexual abuse of minors within the Catholic Church."