Pope Francis is reportedly furious at the plans of a former senior member of the clergy, who hopes to retire in a palatial penthouse apartment overlooking Rome.
Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone was appointed secretary of state – one of the most senior positions in the Church - by Pope Benedict Benedict XVI in 2006, and retired last October.
Claims that Bertone planned to create a lavish home emerged in April, and came to a head in late May when Italian gossip magazine, Chi, published a photo of the renovation atop the Palazzo San Carlo building in the Italian city.
Scaffolding reportedly towers four storeys around the entire penthouse complex, where Bertone will allegedly share the apartment with three nuns who will deal with domestic tasks.
The refurbishment involved merging two existing flats: one of between 300 and 400 sq metres previously assigned to the head of the Vatican gendarmerie, and another of around 200 sq metres belonging to a deceased prelate, according to newspaper La Repubblica.
Pope Francis has sought to promote simple living by taking residence in the House of St Martha guest house instead of the papal penthouse to which he is entitled. He is enraged at Bertone’s actions, according to Italian media reports.
In pictures: 'The many popes of Pope Francis'
In pictures: 'The many popes of Pope Francis'
1/12 The Pro-Gay Pope
In just a year, Pope Francis has managed to change the public perception of the Catholic Church, and the stance it takes on civil issues, like gay rights. Despite originally protesting the legalisation of gay marriage in his native Argentina some years ago, he told reporters this year: “If someone is gay and seeks the Lord with good will, who am I to judge?”
2/12 The Rebel Pope
No other Pope has urged a shake-up of the Catholic Church quite like Pope Francis, a true rebel of the dioceses. Who, incidentally, used to be a night club bouncer.
3/12 The Graffiti Pope
Pope Francis become... SUPER POPE in this Vatican-approved street art. But was he happy with the reference to the fictional DC comic character?"To depict the pope as a sort of superman, a sort of star, seems offensive to me. The pope is a man who laughs, cries, sleeps tranquilly and has friends like everyone else, a normal person," he said. So, that's a no, then.
4/12 The Biker Pope
Yes, the Pope used to own a Harley Davidson. And yes, he auctioned it off this year and donated the proceeds to a charity that feeds the hungry in Rome. Very Papal.
5/12 The ‘Blue’ Pope
Dropping the 'F' bomb during Sunday service? Classic Pope Francis. Sadly, down to a Spanish-speaking slip of the Italian language rather than pure bad-assery.
6/12 The ‘Because I’m Worth It’ Pope
That awkward moment when your Papal hat blows off, forcing your barnet into Sesame Street-like spikes. Pope Francis has been there.
7/12 The Chocolate Pope
Imagine the Pope's delight (horror?) when he was presented with a giant chocolate replica of himself outside the Vatican by by students on a chocolatier course at the Accademia of Maestri Cioccolatieri, near Venice.
8/12 The Rock Star pope
The one and only religious leader ever to grace the cover of Rolling Stone magazine? Introducing... Pope Francis.
9/12 The People’s Pope
His U-turn attitude towards sexuality won him Time magazine's coveted Person of the Year accolade, and the cover of gay rights magazine The Advocate.
10/12 The Merchandise Pope
Thongs, mugs, onesies, earrings and even a baby mobile adorned with decapitated Pope heads, the 'Francis Effect' has seen sales of Papal merchandise soar by 200% over the last year.
11/12 The Fashion Pope
The only Pope, as far as we're aware, to be compared to fashion royalty (Karl Lagerfeld. Yes way.) and win Esquire's Most Stylish Man of 2013 award, too.
12/12 The Modern Pope
Let it be said, Pope Francis knows a thing or two about social media. He might be a way off 'doing a Dalai' and opting for Instagram, but he's not above posing for the odd 'Selfie' on Twitter.
A sermon he gave shortly before Easter is believed to have revealed his reaction to Bertone’s project, in which he slammed “unctuous, sumptuous, presumptuous” clerics, La Repubblica reported.
Responding to claims the attack was partially aimed at him, Bertone told Italian news agency ANSA at the time: “I don’t understand these attacks.
“I am in harmony with the pope. He likes me.”
In a message sent to the newsletter of his former dioceses, the 79-year-old prelate addressed rumours that the property is 700sq metres (7,500 sq ft) - claiming it is actually half this size.
He went on to defend the build, saying that it is normal for flat in the Vatican to be large, adding the apartment on the roof of the Palazzo San Carlo had been “duly converted [at my own expense[ was made available for my temporary use and, after me, someone else will use it,” the Guardian reported.
Bertone added the Pope had called him and expressed ”his solidarity and disappointment at the attacks directed at me over the apartment“.
Asked to comment on the affair, the pope's spokesman, Father Federico Lombardi, said: ”I have nothing to say”, according to the newspaper.