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Outgoing Vatican Secretary Stresses Continuity

VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, who as Vatican secretary of state drew rising criticism for failures of the Vatican bureaucracy he oversaw, stepped down Oct. 15 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, Pope Francis announced the archbishop had been unable to attend on account of a “small surgical intervention” that would keep him away from work for a “few weeks.”

The archbishop had traveled to his native Veneto region of northeastern Italy for the surgery, whose nature the spokesman declined to specify. The new secretary of state, who until the end of September served as papal nuncio to Venezuela, could be in Rome by the end of October.

In his remarks, Cardinal 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.

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