Pope Francis named Archbishop Pietro Parolin, apostolic nuncio to Venezuela, to replace Tarcisio Bertone as the Vatican’s secretary of state, one of the most important posts in the Catholic Church.
Parolin, 58, will take over from the 78-year-old cardinal, who has been in the job for seven years, on Oct. 15, the Vatican said in a statement posted on its website today.
The secretary of state is similar to a prime minister, formulating the Vatican’s politics and diplomacy. Unlike Bertone, who had no diplomatic background when he was appointed, Parolin served as Vatican undersecretary for foreign affairs from 2002 to 2009.
Pope Francis, who in March inherited a church dealing with the fallout from sexual abuse scandals, is trying to rejuvenate a faith that is in decline in Europe. He is taking steps to make the Vatican bank more transparent.
The Curia, the Vatican’s administrative body, came in for public scrutiny last year after former Pope Benedict XVI’s personal butler, Paolo Gabriele, leaked secret papal documents and letters to the press. The material portrayed the Vatican as a hotbed of conspiracy and Benedict as a frail leader, unable to control his subordinates.
Bertone, as depicted by the Italian journalist who wrote a book based on the documents, allegedly plotted to stymie rivals and covered up for corruption and cronyism. The cardinal’s response to the expose was that “many journalists are trying to imitate Dan Brown,” author of the “Da Vinci Code.”