The last month of papal transition meant that the employees of the Vatican’s Secretariat of State worked long hours, so Pope Francis decided that he would offer his heartfelt thanks by making a personal visit.
“Why am I here today? To thank you, because I know that these days - tomorrow marks one month - you have worked a lot more, many hours more, and that you are not paid for this, because you have worked with your heart and this can only be repaid with a ‘thank you’ but a ‘thank you’ from the heart,” Pope Francis told the 300 employees who gathered in the department’s library.
He emphasized that he wanted to personally convey his gratitude, saying, “Thank you very much, from my heart. Thank you.”
On Saturday, April 13 it will be one month since Pope Francis was elected to succeed Benedict XVI.
So the day before that anniversary, Pope Francis visited the two sections of the Holy See’s state department, General Affairs and Relations with States.
The secretariat is currently headed by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, who welcomed the Pope to the April 11 assembly by saying that the staff is “very pleased with this exceptional visit to the headquarters of the Secretariat of State.”
Cardinal Bertone described the staff as “the great family of your closest collaborators” and pointed out that it is comprised of priests, religious, and lay men and women. After the short exchange of remarks and a papal blessing, the Holy Father individually greeted the 300 workers.
The 50-minute encounter was significant because the secretariat is the most powerful Vatican department and is part of the Roman Curia that the cardinals spoke about reforming before the conclave that elected Pope Francis.
He is expected to replace Cardinal Bertone as Secretary of State, but that decision is not expected to be made until May, at the earliest because the cardinal is scheduled to ordain new bishops on April 27.