June 26th, 2006

Chi-Rho Seal

Theological Notebook: Cardinal Bertone as new Vatican Secretary of State

Vatican watching has an interesting development with the appointment of Bertone as the new Vatican Secretary of State. An expert in law and ethics, he comes from outside the normal tracks of Vatican diplomacy to the Vatican's top job. The Vatican's diplomatic work is significant, an interesting study in itself, as they work a great deal "behind the scenes" in diplomatic hot spots around the world, with their influence often only becoming clear years later as archives are made open. The Vatican's role in the end of the Cold War, for example, is a particular recent achievement, with many historians crediting John Paul's leadership as allowing the Eastern Block a way to detach themselves peacefully from their hostile domination of Eastern Europe. So it's worth noting such a significant turnover in staff.

Cardinal Bertone named to state; foreign minister to run Vatican City

By Cindy Wooden
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI reached outside the Vatican diplomatic corps and appointed Italian Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone of Genoa as his new secretary of state.

The Vatican's June 22 announcement said Cardinal Bertone, 71, will succeed Cardinal Angelo Sodano, 78, on Sept. 15 when the pope will hold a special audience with the staff of the Secretariat of State to publicly thank Cardinal Sodano for his 15 years "of generous service to the Holy See."

Also June 22, the Vatican announced that Pope Benedict has accepted the resignation of 78-year-old U.S. Cardinal Edmund C. Szoka as president of the commission governing Vatican City State.

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Bertone Named Secretary of State


To the surprise of no one, Benedict XVI has appointed Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone of Genoa, who worked alongside then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger from 1995 to 2003 as the secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, to be his new Secretary of State.

The move makes Bertone, 71, the most powerful figure in the Vatican after Benedict XVI himself. Since the era of Paul VI, the Secretariat of State has played the role of a "super-dicastery," to some extent coordinating the work of all the other departments of the Vatican. It is also responsible for the Vatican's relations with states, hence its "foreign policy."

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