(Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone (L) and Cuba's Vice President Jose Ramon Machado meet at the Revolution Palace in Havana March 27, 2012. REUTERS/Adalberto Roque)

Amid all the rivalries and gossip exposed by a growing Vatican crisis, Pope Benedict’s deputy Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone has emerged as the chief target of an unprecedented campaign of leaks.

The publication of embarrassing details about men he has appointed or moved out and projects he has promoted or opposed suggests a concerted effort to force him out of his post as secretary of state, or Vatican prime minister.

Benedict ruffled feathers in 2006 by choosing the theologian and canon law expert to head the Vatican bureaucracy known as the Curia, which is normally run by an experienced papal diplomat.

A series of mishaps embarrassing the pope and Bertone’s increasingly authoritarian management style finally prompted his critics to launch the campaign to discredit him, according to Vatican insiders.