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Bertone in Vatican Secretary of State job

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ANSA - Italy

New faces in top Vatican jobs


Bertone in Secretary of State job, Mamberti foreign minister (ANSA) - Vatican City, September 15 - Pope Benedict's remodelling of the Vatican hierarchy neared its completion on Friday as a new secretary of state took office and a 'foreign minister' was appointed .

Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, 71, until recently the archbishop of Genoa, took over the mantle of secretary of state from Cardinal Angelo Sodano, 79, at a simple ceremony held at the pope's summer residence outside Rome .

Benedict thanked Cardinal Sodano for his 15 years of service and referred to his "sadness" at seeing him step down. The prelate will keep his role as dean of the college of cardinals and continue to work with several Vatican departments .

Cardinal Bertone, who worked as the pope's deputy at the Vatican doctrinal department for eight years, now becomes the second most powerful person in the Vatican after Benedict himself .

He will be in charge of all the political and diplomatic activities of the Holy See .

The pope embraced his returning no.2 warmly after reading out the Latin formula used for centuries to invest a new secretary of state, a role akin to that of a prime minister .

Benedict has said in a letter that Bertone was chosen because of his ability to combine pastoral skills with extensive knowledge of doctrine .

The Piedmont-born cardinal was in the public eye recently as one of the leading campaigners against the film and book The Da Vinci Code, which he urged Catholics to boycott .


In an interview published in the Italian bishops' daily Avvenire, Bertone said the years spent working with the pope - when then cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was head of the doctrinal office - had produced a close rapport .

He said his own nature often made him "impulsive and eager", while he described the German pontiff as a "gentle, composed and cheerful" man. Bertone's appointment is the most important move in Benedict XVI's reshaping of the Vatican administration after his election in 2005 .

But the other appointment announced on Friday was also crucial for the Vatican's role in world affairs .

It saw 54-year-old Monsignor Dominque Mamberti, apostolic nuncio in Sudan and Eritrea, tapped for the post which is similar to that of foreign minister in a national government .

Mamberti, an experienced Vatican diplomat who was born in Morocco of French parents, will be Secretary for Relations with States, which is part of the Secretariat of State .

In the past he has represented the pope in Algeria, Chile, Lebanon and at the UN, as well as a doing a spell at the Roman Curia. He was posted to the Sudan in 2002 .

Given current tensions between the Islamic world and the West, Mamberti's experience in several countries with large Muslim populations may have been one of the reasons for his appointment .

He takes over from Msgr Giovanni Lajolo, 71, who is to take the helm at the administrative offices of the Vatican City State .

Photo: Pope Benedict greets his new Secretary of State .

Copyright ANSA. All rights reserved

Further Reading:

Holy Spirit Watch