Pope presides over secretary of state handover ceremony
Pope Francis thanks Bertone for service, replacement delayed15 October, 17:08
Bertone's replacement, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, was absent for the handover, however, as he was undergoing a ''small surgical operation'' in Veneto that will delay his start by few weeks, Vatican Spokesman Federico Lombardi said.
Lombardi added that ''it is not an emergency situation'', and that Pope Francis had assured him ''that it is not at all a serious operation''. While the office of chief diplomat remains vacant, the heads of two sections he oversees, general affairs and state relations, will step in. During the farewell ceremony, Pope Francis thanked Bertone for his service in a speech and a letter.
Bertone, in his own speech, recounted his seven years of service as secretary of state under Benedict XVI. Pope Francis told Bertone, ''I wish to thank you also for the courage and patience with which you lived through the adversities you had to face. They are many''.
Bertone is a Salesian prelate. The pope told a story about the founder of the Salesian Society, Saint Giovanni Melchiorre Bosco, who created the order in the late 1800's to care for and educate the young and poor children of the industrial revolution.
''Among the dreams told by Don Bosco to his youths, there is the one about the roses. Do you remember it? The saint sees a pergola full of roses and begins to walk inside it, followed by many disciples,'' began the pope. Pope Francis then explained how Don Bosco and his disciples were hurt by extremely sharp thorns inside the pergola while those outside see only beautiful roses.
''Many got discouraged, but the Virgin Mary urged them all to persevere,'' the pope went on, telling how the priest and his followers did, in fact, reach a beautiful garden, and that the parable symbolized the ''hard work of the educator'' but could apply to ''any ministry of responsibility in the Church''.
Pope Francis also wished Bertone the ''treasures'' that were the ''great loves'' of Don Bosco: ''the presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, the assistance of the Madonna, the friendship of the pope''.