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Pope Francis appoints new Vatican Secretary of State

By on Saturday, 31 August 2013

Archbishop Pietro Parolin (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Archbishop Pietro Parolin (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Pope Francis has appointed Archbishop Pietro Parolin as his Secretary of State.

The 58-year-old Italian archbishop replaces Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone who served as Vatican Secretary of State under Benedict XVI.

Archbishop Parolin has served as Apostolic Nuncio to Venezuela since 2009.

In a statement following the announcement today, Archbishop Parolin said: “At this moment, in which my appointment as Secretary of State is made public I desire to express deep and affectionate gratitude to the Holy Father, Francis, for the unmerited trust he is showing me, and to make known to him once again my willingness and complete availability to work with him and under his guidance for the greater glory of God, the good of the Holy Church, and the progress and peace of humanity, that humanity might find reasons to live and to hope.”

He continued: “I feel very strongly the grace of this call, which is yet another and the latest of God’s surprises in my life. Above all, I feel the full weight of the responsibility placed upon me: this call entrusts to me a difficult and challenging mission, before which my powers are weak and my abilities poor. For this reason, I entrust myself to the merciful love of the Lord, from whom nothing and no one can ever separate me, and to the prayers of all. I thank all those who have shown and who, starting now, will show me understanding, as well as for any and all manner of help that anyone might desire to offer me in my new undertaking.

“My thoughts go to my family and to all the persons who have been part of my life: in the parishes into which I was born and in which I served; in the dear Diocese of Vicenza; at Rome; in the countries in which I have worked – from Nigeria, to Mexico, and most recently in Venezuela, which I am sorry to leave. I think also of Pope-emeritus Benedict XVI, who ordained me bishop, I think of the Secretariat of State, which was my home for many years, of His Eminence, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, of the other Superiors, colleagues and collaborators and of the whole Roman Curia, as well as of all those who represent the Holy Father and the Holy See diplomatically around the world. I owe a great debt to them all.

“It is with trepidation that I place myself in this new service to the Gospel, to the Church and to Pope Francis, but also with trust and serenity – disposed – as the Holy Father has asked us from the beginning – to walk, to build and to profess. May our Lady, whom I like to invoke under her titles as Our Lady of Monte Berico, Guadalupe and Coromoto, give us, ‘The courage, to walk in the presence of the Lord, with the Lord’s Cross; to build the Church on the Lord’s blood which was poured out on the Cross; and to profess the one glory: Christ crucified. And in this way, the Church will go forward.”

National Catholic Reporter’s correspondent, John Allen said that “nothing says more about where a pope wants to go than the people he chooses to help get him there.”

He continued: “pride of place in that mix generally goes to the Secretary of State, by tradition a pope’s ‘Prime Minister.’”

Allen described Archbishop Parolin as “a veteran Vatican diplomat.” He said: “By naming a consummate insider, Francis appears to want to “reboot” the Vatican’s operating system back to a point when it was perceived to operate efficiently, rather than scrapping it entirely.”

Commenting on Parolin’s suitability for his new role, Allen said: “Over the years, the former number three official in the Vatican’s diplomatic service has come to be seen as one of the “best and brightest” of his generation of ecclesiastical leaders. Admirers regard Parolin as hard-working, well informed, and gifted with the capacity to see issues from multiple points of view.

“In 2006, Inside the Vatican magazine named Parolin one of its Top Ten people of the year, citing his work on nuclear disarmament, dialogue with Iran and North Korea, and the fight against human trafficking. The magazine called Parolin “one of the church’s most tireless and effective diplomats.”

“The pick has been keenly anticipated, given that frustration with perceived breakdowns in governance under Bertone was part of what led the cardinals in March to elect a Latin American outsider to the papacy, handing him a clear reform mandate. Parolin now profiles as a key figure in that effort.

“At the same time, longtime Vatican-watchers caution that Parolin may not wield quite the same power as his immediate predecessors, Bertone under Benedict and Cardinal Angelo Sodano under John Paul II.”

Catholic commentator John Thavis said the appointment of Archbishop Parolin as the new secretary of state brought “diplomacy front and centre to a position that for the last eight years was held by a non-diplomat.”

Thavis added that Archbishop Parolin has strong experience of untying “diplomatic knots.” He said: “From 2002 to 2009, Parolin worked at the Secretariat of State’s headquarters at the Vatican, serving as the undersecretary for relations with states, a kind of deputy foreign minister. Although not a high-profile job, it was one of the most important at the Vatican; among other things, he was assigned to help untie diplomatic knots in China, Vietnam and Israel.

“When U.S. Embassy personnel needed to discuss important diplomatic affairs with the Vatican, more often than not they went to see Parolin. That included some less-than-agreeable meetings when the United States invaded Iraq in 2003, a move sharply criticized by the Vatican.

“Parolin was also helpful to journalists covering the Vatican – on background, of course. He could brief reporters on just about any global issue in about five minutes, and he seemed to understand that the media’s accuracy improved when it had more information. He was known as a realist and a pragmatist.”

  • Sarah

    Great choice. Look forward to hearing the news of complete reform in Vatican and the Church in general . The strategy of running the Church in the UK has failed. We need to learn from Americans or the rest the world where the Church has a totally different approach which makes it flourish. This is what 95 percent of Catholics want. If the Bishops can’t deliver change, they must step down and pave the way for more efficient leaders!

  • The Great Stalin

    Exactly why is it a “great choice”, Comrade?

    In what is the Church in America flourishing? In no priests, nuns? In a collapse of belief in the Real Presence? In constantly-declining Mass attendance and use of the Sacraments?

    Would be grateful for your detailed evidence.

  • Mike

    I think you don’t seem to have sufficient knowledge nor competent to discuss in such a forum. I think you better develop some reading habit and write comments!

  • Lucy

    I agree with Sarah and Mike

  • Benedict Carter


  • Wanderer

    Reform? Don’t make me laugh. Parolin is a Sodano clone, and his pedigree goes back to Casaroli and the sinister A. Silvestrini. It’s back to business as usual folks. The old guard are having their revenge on Bertone, and through him are getting at the pope emeritus. As for ramifications in the UK, Cormac’s cronies are a shoe-in, you can be sure.

  • Tylers_Twin

    This appointment has made it to the front page of the BBC news website. Pope Francis is experiencing a staggeringly long honeymoon.

  • Thomas Poovathinkal SSP

    To make the Church, if it is to be the Church of Christ the Lord, flourish, the Bishops need to be TRUE APOSTLES. Otherwise there is no hope.


  • NatOns

    Painful as Archbishop Pietro Parolin is – in terms of restoring the liturgy and orthodoxy and Sacred Tradition to Catholicism – at least he is not Angelo Cardinal Sodano, associated with him though he must be. Still and all, he does seem to be what the Sovereign Pontiff most seriously lacks today, a careful and quiet fixer-upper in difficult spots .. rarely a type particularly well liked by all even if sincerely appreciated by many: think Eugenio Pacelli (Weimar Germany / Soviet Russia) rather more than Angelo Giuseppe Roncali (Turkey / France). The Catholic Church does not need another Raymond Cardinal Burke, as if there could be another genuine blessing like him, let alone another Joao Cardinal Braz de Viz, if it could survive such another burden; at this time of burning anxiety it does need a diplomat – even if he is nothing more than yet another disciple of the aquarian-spirit-of-Post-Vat-II realism and pragmatism in regard the truths of the Faith (which Pietro Parolin is not, his Episcopal motto has been: ‘What will separate us from the love of Christ?’)

  • Julian Lord

    This is what 95 percent of Catholics want

    Your statement is incoherent with reality.

  • NatOns

    As did Blessed John Paul II; but the world discarded him just as wilfully – when the flesh realised he was sincere in what he was telling it what it was .. mere worldliness.

  • TrueSon

    I wish you would take time to look in on EWTN each week you will see and hear the good news come from the true believer each week, See the young lady going to become Sisters,And young men going in to the clergy,The church founded by Our Lard his being going for the last two thousand years, And will be going in the next two thousand years, So Put your trust in The Lord.

  • Benedict Carter

    I read somewhere today that he is a creature of Sodano and the very sinister Silvestrini before him.

  • NatOns

    It would not surprise me one bit; but the Holy Ghost is God and God is not mocked, even if men try their best to do it. He is not a soul that would appeal to me, but there were those who felt they could never warm to Eugenio Pacelli – and did their darnedest to blacken his name (rather successfully). But the Holy Father needs a diplomatist, and Archbishop is that; please the God Lord He works well through even the most unpromising disciples as through the abundantly obvious saints.

    Dear God preserve us in such dire necessities as these!

  • Aurel

    You are absolutely correct.

  • Dr. Jon Brownridge

    “We need to learn from Americans (and Canadians) or the rest the world where the Church has a totally different approach which makes it flourish.”

    You hit the nail on the head.

  • JBQ21

    Bertone’ was very controversial especially in regard to The Third Secret of Fatima. He even wrote a book about it.

  • aspiring lay capuchin

    Peter has been returned to the Vatican. Could he be the last Pope for humanity? (one more after this one and then this man as the last Pope). Watch this space as they say!

  • aspiring lay capuchin

    yes you are right. There was a big profile of him in THE VATICAN INSIDER/La Stampa. No one is perfect. The last Pope?

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