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Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Vatican secretary of state, reacts as Pope Francis makes a comment during an audience with pilgrims from the Diocese of Bergamo, Italy, June 3 in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)
Cardinal Bertone, who was Vatican Secretary of State under Pope Benedict XVI (he was appointed in 2006), is not going quietly, according to a report in The Guardian, which in turn cites a story in the Italian newspaper, Ansa:

The Italian prelate who was Pope Benedict's righthand man in the Vatican during his scandal-dogged papacy has defended his much-criticised record, insisting he "gave everything" to the job despite the activities of "vipers" in the Roman curia.

Speaking a day after Pope Francis named a Vatican diplomat as his new secretary of state, Tarcisio Bertone appeared defiant as he was asked about his time in office.

"I see the record of the past seven years as positive. Of course, there were a lot of problems, especially in the last two years," he said, according to the Ansa news agency, hitting out at "a combination of crows and vipers".

"But this should not cloud what I consider to be a positive record," he added. The Italian word corvo (crow) is used pejoratively to describe informants or people who leak secrets.

The final years of Benedict's papacy were overshadowed by scandal, most prominently the so-called "Vatileaks" affair that depicted the Vatican's swollen bureaucracy as a hotbed of conspiracy and cronyism.

Bertone, who was appointed by Benedict in 2006 to occupy a role often described as the Vatican's prime minister, was blamed for much of the papacy's disfunction and poor decision-making. The German pontiff came under pressure from some senior clerics to fire Bertone, but refused.

"I always gave everything but certainly I had my shortcomings," said Bertone, 78, on Sunday. "But this does not mean that I did not try to serve the church."

Read the entire story on the Guardian site. It is debatable, I suppose, how well Bertone's comments conform to Christ's injunction to "be wise as serpents and innocent as doves" (Mt 10:16). For more about Archbishop Pietro Parolin, appointed by Pope Francis to replace Cardinal Bertone, see this CWR blog post by Catherine Harmon.

 
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Carl E. Olson is editor of Catholic World Report and Ignatius Insight.
 
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