"Insinuations about various manoeuvres have surprised me because diversity of opinions does not mean division," Angelo Sodano, late pope John Paul II's trusted number two for years, told the Vatican's Osservatore Romano daily.
The 84-year-old Sodano, who is now the dean of the college of cardinals, was responding to reports in Italian media of a fierce power struggle behind leaks of confidential documents that have gripped the Vatican in recent months.
Most Vatican watchers say the "Vatileaks" scandal, which has led to the arrest of Pope Benedict XVI's butler for allegedly leaking the documents, is aimed at undermining the powerful Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone.
Cardinal Sodano, who was Secretary of State between 1990 and 2006 and was replaced by Bertone, said cardinals were coping with "the difficulties of the moment."
The cardinal also accused the media of spreading "disinformation".
He pointed out that 2,843 people work in the Roman Curia and 2,001 in the Vatican Governorate administration, saying: "It is clear that in such a large community, there may be someone who is not carrying out their duties."
"It is understandable that with different personalities, different nationalities, different cultures and different social sensitivities, there may be different judgments on different working methods," he said.