Home > Queensland Synod News > Pope installs second-in-command amid reports of Vatican shake up

Pope installs second-in-command amid reports of Vatican shake up

Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone has been installed as the Vatican’s new secretary of state, the number two position that makes him the closest colleague of Pope Benedict XVI. The appointment comes during media speculation that the Pope is to embark on a major overhaul of the Vatican.

Bertone, until now archbishop of Genoa, will succeed Cardinal Angelo Sodano in dealing with the day-to-day running of the Vatican bureaucracy. He was formally introduced to the position by Pope Benedict at a 15 September ceremony at Castelgandolfo, the papal summer residence near Rome.

"His theological and doctrinal background will serve Benedict’s goals of turning the curia into an administrative body aimed at facilitating the spreading of the Gospel rather than consolidating its own power," wrote Vatican-watcher Jeff Israely of Time magazine.

Bertone has no diplomatic experience, something often considered a prerequisite for the job that has been described as being the Vatican’s "prime minister". However, from 1995 to 2002, Bertone was secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the guardian of Vatican orthodoxy which Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger headed before being elected as Pope in 2005.

Bertone is a "staunch conservative on doctrinal issues", according to John Allen of the National Catholic Reporter. But, Allen noted after Bertone’s appointment was announced, he made relations with young people a priority in Genoa: "One of his first outings as archbishop was to a local disco, where Bertone was photographed on the dance floor. He has also taken a few turns at providing colour commentary during broadcasts of Italian soccer matches."

The new secretary of state, like his predecessor, Cardinal Sodano, comes from Italy’s northern Piedmont region.

Sodano, however, spent most of his career in Vatican diplomacy. He was the Vatican’s envoy to Chile from 1978 until 1988, when John Paul II called him to serve as secretary of the then Council for Public Affairs of the Church, one of the branches of the Secretariat of State. He became Secretary of State in June 1991.

On 15 September, the Pope also named Archbishop Dominique Mamberti as the Vatican’s new "foreign minister", or secretary for relations with the states. Born in 1952 in Morocco, he was ordained in 1981 in the French diocese of Ajaccio, and has served as the Vatican’s envoy to Sudan and to Eritrea. He previously served at the Vatican’s nunciatures (embassies) in Algeria and Chile, and at its UN mission in New York.

(c) Ecumenical News International