Vatican City, Jun 1, 2022 / 11:50 am
There is one image of the late Cardinal Angelo Sodano that remains etched in Vatican-watchers’ memories. On Feb. 11, 2013, Benedict XVI had just delivered a speech announcing his resignation and left amid an atmosphere of emotion and bewilderment. Immediately, two groups of cardinals formed: one around the then Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the other around Sodano, the dean of the College of Cardinals and a sure point of reference for many.
With Sodano’s death on May 27, the era of the great Vatican diplomats who became men of government ended. The symbol of these men is Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the current Vatican Secretary of State, who was effectively the Vatican’s deputy minister of foreign affairs under Sodano first and then Bertone, before he was sent to serve as nuncio to Venezuela in 2009, returning in 2013 as Secretary of State.
Parolin’s appointment was hailed as a return to the era of diplomats in the Vatican. At the same time, it was said that the pontificate of Benedict XVI was characterized by a sort of “revenge” of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), signaled by the arrival of former CDF official Bertone at the helm of the Secretariat of State.
At Sodano’s funeral in St. Peter’s Basilica on May 31, Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, the current dean of the College of Cardinals, underlined: “Many of us were able to appreciate closely the high sense of duty of Cardinal Sodano, his gifts of intellect and heart, his sensitivity for pastoral aims of the Church’s action in the world, his wisdom in evaluating events and situations and his willingness to help, seeking in each case adequate solutions.”