The head of the Vatican's communications department resigned Wednesday in a scandal about a letter from retired Pope Benedict XVI that he mischaracterized, then had digitally manipulated in a photo sent to the media. Pope Francis accepted the resignation of Monsignor Dario Vigano on Wednesday and named his deputy, Monsignor Lucio Adrian Ruiz, to run the Secretariat for Communication for now, reports the AP. But in a sign that Francis still has faith in Vigano, he's been asked to stay at the department in a lesser capacity. The move comes after Vigano shared part of a private letter from Benedict about an 11-volume set of books about Francis' theology, giving the impression that Benedict had read the volume and fully endorsed it, when in fact he hadn't.
Vigano had held up Benedict's letter as a sign of the continuity between the two popes, to blunt critics who complain that Francis' mercy-over-morals papacy represents a theological break from Benedict's doctrinaire term. But he omitted the part where Benedict objected to one of the authors in the volume. And a photo of the letter sent to the media digitally blurred out the lines where Benedict began to explain why he refused to write a commentary on the books. In his resignation letter dated March 19, Vigano said he wanted to step aside so that his presence "wouldn't delay, damage, or block" Francis' reform of the Vatican's communications operations. He acknowledged that his behavior, despite his intentions, had destabilized the communications reform.
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