Bertone: Secretary of the Church

Bertone: Secretary of the Church

Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the incoming Vatican Secretary of State, discussed his vision for the office this week as he prepares to officially take charge on September 15. He appears to want to turn the focus away from politics and diplomacy as an end in themselves and re-focus the Secretariat on the mission of the Gospel, seeing all its activities through that lens.

The Secretariat of State must “help the Church’s mission in every area.” But he emphasized that he would seek to keep the focus of work on the spiritual mission. He cited the adviced that he had received from Bishop Luigi Bettazzi, the former bishop of Ivrea, where he was born: “He told me to be more of a secretary for the Church than a Secretary of State.”

He also said that he wants to reorganize the Roman curia, getting rid of the deadwood and making it more efficient. You’d think he was German and not Italian, but then he did spend all those years as Benedict’s secretary at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Maybe it rubbed off on him.

The Secretary of State is arguably the second most powerful man in the Church after the Pope, although you could make a claim for the Prefect of the CDF, too. But for the curia, the Secretary is the man. Everything except the work of the CDF goes through State and in function he’s like a prime minister or chancellor to the Pope’s “monarch”. In other words, he will have a big influence on how the Vatican operates and the culture of the curia. This should be interesting.

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