Pope Francis has done almost nothing to tackle child sex abuse in the Church, the high profile Vatican journalist Emiliano Fittipaldi has alleged in an explosive new book.
The Italian's last book Avarizia (Greed) alleged deep corruption within the Catholic Church and led to him standing trial in front of a Vatican court for illegally obtaining confidential documents.
His latest work, Lussuria (Lust), will be released in Italian on Thursday and claims Pope Francis has done "close to nothing" to stop sex abuse by priests around the world.
Fittipaldi says 1,200 claims of abuse against young boys and girls have been highlighted to the Vatican since the start of Francis' papacy three years ago.
In around 20 of the abuse cases alleged to have happened in Italy, priests have been convicted without facing any Church action, Fittipaldi writes.
"The principle message of the book – the problem – is that the phenomenon of paedophilia is not being fought with sufficient force," he told the Guardian.
"Across the world, the church continues to protect the privacy of the paedophiles and also the cardinals [who protect them]."
He added: "Francis is not directly defending the paedophiles, but he did close to nothing to contrast the phenomenon of paedophilia."
The Italian writer looks at the case of Cardinal George Pell in his book as well the case of Mauro Inzoli, a priest defrocked by Francis' predecessor Pope Benedict but allowed to return to the clergy with conditions under Pope Francis.
"In all the Catholic countries, in Italy, Spain, South America, the sexual crimes of the priests are hard to tell. There is a kind of auto-censoring, on the part of journalists and victims because of the shame and because the culture of the church is very strong," said Fittipaldi.
Speaking of his trial after his last book, for which he was acquitted, he told the Guardian "It was ironic to be there, during the trial. I was thinking that many priests and bishops and cardinal were involved in sexual abuse and the Vatican does nothing. They preferred going after journalists."