VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis on Saturday tapped a veteran Vatican diplomat to be his top aide, replacing the Holy See’s secretary of state who in recent years increasingly became a divisive figure in a church hierarchy mired in embarrassing scandal and financial probes.
The Vatican announced that Archbishop Pietro Parolin, 58, an Italian and former deputy foreign minister at the Vatican, on Oct. 15 will assume the post held since 2006 by Italian Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone. The cardinal will remain in the position until then, giving Parolin, currently serving as papal envoy to Venezuela, time to prepare for his new duties as the Vatican’s No. 2 official.
Benedict XVI, who retired as pontiff earlier this year, had relied heavily on Bertone as one of the few advisers in his inner circle. Bertone, a Genoa archbishop, had served the German pope for many years at the Vatican.
The Vatican noted that Bertone, 78, was retiring under a church law that requires cardinals who hold top curia posts to offer their resignations when they turn 75. Benedict had kept him in place, reportedly to the irritation of a rival faction of Vatican bureaucrats loyal to Bertone’s predecessor, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, a former longtime secretary of state.