Skip to main content

Vatican: Pope appoints Archbishop Pietro Parolin as secretary of state

By Laura Smith-Spark, CNN
updated 7:06 AM EDT, Mon September 2, 2013
The new Holy See's secretary of statePietro Parolin pictured here in Hanoi on February 19, 2009.
The new Holy See's secretary of statePietro Parolin pictured here in Hanoi on February 19, 2009.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Parolin is a veteran Vatican diplomat seen as key to pope's reform efforts, analyst says
  • Archbishop Pietro Parolin is appointed secretary of state for the Holy See
  • The secretary of state assumes the role of the Vatican's head of government
  • Pope Francis has taken a number of steps to reform the Vatican administration

(CNN) -- Pope Francis has appointed Archbishop Pietro Parolin to succeed Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone as the Holy See's secretary of state, the Vatican said Saturday.

Until now, Parolin, a 58-year-old Italian, was the diplomatic representative of the Holy See in Venezuela. He has also worked in Nigeria and Mexico, as well as within the Vatican.

The secretary of state assumes the role of the Vatican's head of government and is considered the most important figure in the Vatican after the pope.

"I feel very strongly the grace of this call, which is yet another and the latest of God's surprises in my life," Parolin said in a statement quoted by Vatican Radio.

Change in papacy's tone 'revolutionary'
Top Vatican bank officials resign
Sign of change at the Catholic Church?

"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."

CNN's Vatican correspondent John Allen, writing in the National Catholic Reporter, described Parolin as a "veteran Vatican diplomat," who "has been on the front lines of shaping the Vatican's response to virtually every geopolitical challenge of the past two decades."

Parolin has been on many people's shortlists for the job since Francis became pope in March and signaled that he would shake things up, said Allen. The cleric has more than a quarter-century's experience in the Vatican's diplomatic service and is seen as one of the brightest of his generation.

"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," said Allen.

"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."

Francis has already taken a number of steps to try to reform the Curia, the Vatican administration, since his election.

In July, he set up an expert committee to recommend reforms to the economic and administrative structures of the Holy See. He's also ordered more scrutiny of the Vatican bank, which has been plagued by financial scandals for years.

CNN's Bharati Naik and Richard Allen Greene contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 5:45 PM EST, Tue December 16, 2014
Pakistan Taliban say the school attack was revenge for the killing of children in a military offensive -- but they are being pressed by defections to ISIS.
A group that claims it hacked Sony Pictures has posted a public threat against moviegoers who see Sony's "The Interview."
updated 9:43 PM EST, Wed December 17, 2014
The gunman behind the deadly siege in Sydney this week was not on a security watch list, and Australia's Prime Minister wants to know why.
updated 4:48 AM EST, Thu December 18, 2014
Bestselling author Marjorie Liu had set her sights on being a lawyer, but realized it wasn't what she wanted to do for the rest of her life.
updated 3:27 PM EST, Tue December 16, 2014
CNN's Matthew Chance looks into an HRW report saying Russia has "legalized discrimination against LGBT people."
updated 9:12 PM EST, Mon December 15, 2014
The Sydney siege has brought home some troubling truths to Australians. They are not immune to what are often called "lone-wolf" terror attacks.
updated 7:12 PM EST, Mon December 15, 2014
A social media campaign condemning Islamophobia under the hashtag #illridewithyou has taken off after Sydney hostage siege.
Bill Cosby has kept quiet as sexual assault allegations mounted against him, but his wife, Camille, finally spoke out in defense of her husband.
updated 6:44 AM EST, Mon December 15, 2014
China-bound AirAsia flight turns back to Bangkok after passenger throws water over crew member.
updated 5:26 AM EST, Mon December 15, 2014
It takes Nepalese eye doctor, Sanduk Ruit about five minutes to change someone's life.
updated 5:54 AM EST, Tue December 16, 2014
This epic journey crosses 13,000 kilometers, eight countries over 21 days. Find out where.
updated 9:31 AM EST, Fri December 19, 2014
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT