Pope Benedict XVI announced two major personnel changes in top Vatican positions today. The Holy Father has accepted resignations from Cardinals Angelo Sodano and Edmund Szoka and has announced their replacements.
Cardinal Sodano who has served as the Secretary of State for the Holy See since 1991 will be leaving his post on September 15th and will be replaced by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B., the 71 year old Archbishop of Genoa. Bertone served as second in command to Pope Benedict for eight years when the current Pope was in charge of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
Often called the Vatican’s second highest position, the Secretary of State is responsible not only for communications between the Holy See and other nations, but also for caring for the universal Church and dealing with the dicasteries of the Roman Curia.
Bertone, who was born in northern Italy on December 2, 1934, was the fifth of eight children in his family. His early education with the Salesian fathers led him to eventually enter the order. He made his first religious profession on December 3, 1950, and was ordained as a priest on July 1, 1960. After earning a licentiate degree in Theology at the Salesian Faculty of Theology in Turin, he continued his studies in Rome at the Pontifical Salesian Institute, where he earned a licentiate and doctorate in Canon Law. He taught Moral Theology and Cannon Law at the Salesian Institute -eventually the Pontifical Salesian University- for 10 years and was chosen as dean in 1989. At the same time he also taught Ecclesiastic Public Law at the Institutum Utriusque Iuris of the Pontifical Lateran University. He has authored various publications and worked on the final revision of the Code of Canon Law.
After acting as a consulter in various Vatican congregations, Bertone became Bishop of Vercelli in 1991. In 1995 Bertone was appointed to his secretarial roll under then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. During his time at the congregation, Bertone dealt with various delicate matters, including an “interview” of Sr Lucia, to clarify the question of the completeness of the publication of the Fatima revelations, as well as the highly publicized matter concerning healer-Archbishop Milingo who had adhered to the sect of the Reverend Moon.
"This is a Copernican revolution for me," Bertone told Italian News Service ANSA, referring to the enormous change it will mean for him after spending the last three years tending to his flock in Genoa .
He added that, as a member of the Salesian order and a man of the Church, he was "accustomed to obeying."
ANSA reports that in a letter to be published Saturday in the Vatican daily Osservatore Romano, Pope Benedict says that Bertone was chosen because of his ability to combine pastoral skills with an extensive knowledge of doctrine.
The Pope also accepted the resignation of American Cardinal and former Archbishop of Detroit, Edmund Casimir Szoka, President of the Pontifical Commission for Vatican City State and of the Governorate of Vatican City State. Cardinal Szoka, who has been in his role since 1997, will step down on September 15th as well. He will be replaced by Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo, who currently serves as Secretary of the Secretariat of State’s Section for Relations with States.
Lajolo’s role will be to manage the many day-to-day affairs of running the Vatican city-state. Despite its small size and location in the middle of Rome, Vatican City employs numerous employees and retains responsibility for most of its own civil affairs, as well as the management of a postal service, bank, grocery store, and several other businesses common to a small city.