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Parolin ends Bertone era as Vatican secretary of state

New appointment seen as part of Francis's shake-up

14 October, 19:49
Parolin ends Bertone era as Vatican secretary of state (By Sandra Cordon).

(ANSA) - Vatican City, October 14 - The end of an era was being marked at the Vatican Monday as the term of Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone as secretary of state concluded and his successor prepared to begin work.

Msgr. Piero Parolin, who has been the Holy See's representative in Venezuela, was chosen by Pope Francis to replace Bertone, an appointee of the former pope, Benedict XVI.

Bertone, who took office as secretary of state on Sept. 15, 2006, will turn 79 in December and had served Benedict XVI during his work in the office of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Initially, controversy followed Benedict's decision to appoint Bertone as secretary of state because the archbishop from Italy's Piedmont region did not have a strong background or training in the field of diplomacy.

Bertone also came under some criticism for relations with the Italian Bishops Conference, as well as his dealings with certain other institutions within Italy.

In the last phase of the former pontificate, Bertone also provoked discontentment and was involved in the so-called "Vatileaks" controversy where confidential Church documents were leaked to the press by the former pope's butler in 2012.

In contrast, Parolin belongs to the diplomatic tradition; in fact, until 2009 he served in the office of the secretary of state for relations with states which, in practice, serves as the deputy foreign minister of the Vatican.

Parolin, the new right hand of Pope Francis, was born in 1955 in Schiavon, in Italy's Veneto region, has a degree in canon law from Gregorian University, and entered the papal diplomatic service in the summer of 1986.

He worked in Nigeria for the papal authorities from 1986 to 1989 and in Mexico from 1989 to 1992; and as the 59th secretary of state in the Vatican's modern era will now have the task of interpreting the "foreign policy" of Pope Francis.

Parolin's appointment was announced on August 31 and he will take over the position formally on Tuesday morning at a ceremony in the papal library.

Speakers are scheduled to include Pope Francis and a number of officials will likely attend.

Vatican Radio has said that the event will also give the pope an opportunity to "publicly thank the outgoing secretary....for (Bertone's) faithful and generous service to the Holy See and to present the new secretary of state".

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