Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone
VATICAN CITY – Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, who as Vatican secretary of state drew rising criticism for failures of the Vatican bureaucracy he oversaw, stepped down Oct. 15.
Bertone made his exit with a speech praising the pontificate of retired Pope Benedict XVI and stressing its continuity with that of Pope Francis.
The cardinal made his remarks at a ceremony in the Apostolic Palace marking the end of his seven years as the chief aide to two popes.
Before his speech, Pope Francis thanked the cardinal for the “courage and patience with which you have lived the adversities you have had to face. They are so many.”
The ceremony had also been planned as a welcome to the incoming secretary of state, Archbishop Pietro Parolin.
But to the surprise of most in the room, the pope said Parolin was unable to attend on account of a “small surgical intervention” that would keep him away from work for a “few weeks.”
In his remarks, Bertone paid tribute to Pope Benedict, whom he served for more than six years as secretary of state, and for more than seven years at the Vatican’s doctrinal office under then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger.
“What stirred our passion with Pope Benedict XVI was to see the Church understand itself deeply as a communion, and at the same time speak to the world, to the heart and to the intelligence of all with clarity of doctrine and a high level of thought,” the cardinal said.
“I see today in Pope Francis not so much a revolution but a continuity with Pope Benedict XVI even with their differences in style and personal life,” the cardinal said.
In particular, he noted the strong devotion to Mary – and particularly Our Lady of Fatima – that he said united the two pontiffs.
In September, the cardinal told journalists his seven years as secretary of state had been “positive on balance,” but also acknowledged “many problems, especially in the last two years.”