Pope names diplomat as chief aide, changing tone at Vatican
By Philip Pullella, Reuters, Aug. 30, 2013
VATICAN CITY (Reuters)—Pope Francis attempted to set a new tone for a Vatican beset by scandals on Saturday by naming a veteran diplomat as secretary of state, a role often called the “deputy pope”.
Archbishop Pietro Parolin’s appointment ends the era of Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, who was widely blamed for failing to prevent ethical and financial scandals that marked the eight-year reign of former Pope Benedict, who resigned in February.
Parolin, a 58-year-old Italian who, like Francis, is known for his frugal lifestyle, is currently the Vatican’s nuncio (ambassador) in Venezuela.
The naming of a new secretary of state—who acts as the pope’s prime minister and chief aide—is the most significant appointment by Francis since his election in March.
Although he has no power to rule on doctrinal issues, the secretary of state sits in when the pope is ill.
He sets the tone for the Vatican’s central administration, known as the Curia, and is involved in everything from finances and the appointment of bishops to diplomatic relations with more than 170 countries.
Bertone, 79, who was secretary of state for nearly all of Benedict’s pontificate, was accused of not keeping a close enough watch on the Curia, some of whose members have been accused of corruption and cronyism.