The Vatican has come out in force to dispute a host of Italian media reports about financial waste and mismanagement in the Holy See, announcing new investigations into the leaks of internal documents and warning that it will take legal steps to protect its reputation.

Pope Francis' top deputy, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, said Wednesday the reports have bordered on "hysterical" and were simply "attacks on the church."

He acknowledged, however, that Francis' reform agenda has run into "resistance."

Italian newspapers have been rife with follow-up reports after two bombshell books last week detailed the greed of cardinals and monsignors, the mismanagement of Vatican assets and the internal resistance Francis is facing to fix the problems. Two people who had access to documents informing the books have been arrested.