Vatican full of crows and vipers, says ousted cardinal
THE VATICAN'S de facto prime minister has hit out at his enemies a day after being ordered out by the Pope, claiming that he was surrounded by "crows and vipers" who undermined him.
Defending his record despite a series of scandals, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone (78) also appeared to suggest that any blame for errors should be shared by Pope Benedict XVI, who appointed him as secretary of state, effectively his number two, in 2006.
The backlash followed the surprise announcement that Pope Francis had named Archbishop Pietro Parolin (58), currently nuncio in Venezuela, as Cardinal Bertone's replacement, with a handover due next month.
Cardinal Bertone's tenure culminated with the leaking by Benedict's butler of papal correspondence last year. Among the documents were claims that Cardinal Bertone ran a Vatican riven by petty rivalries, corruption and mismanagement.
But speaking on the sidelines of a Mass being celebrated in Sicily, Cardinal Bertone chose to fight back. "On balance I consider these seven years to have been positive," he said.
"Naturally there were problems, particularly in the last two years, they have made many accusations against me . . . a mix of crows and vipers."
He said while it might seem like the secretary of state "decides and controls everything", that was not the case.
"There were matters that got out of control because they were problems which were sealed within the management of certain people who did not contact the secretary of state," he said.
"I always gave everything but certainly I had my shortcomings and if I could relive certain moments now I would act differently. But that does not mean that I did not try to serve the church."
Cardinal Bertone should have stepped down upon turning 75, but was kept on by Benedict, reportedly to the displeasure of a rival faction of Vatican bureaucrats.
On his relationship with Benedict, he said: "An honest assessment cannot but take note of how the secretary of state is the first assistant of the Pope, a faithful executor of the tasks with which he is entrusted. Something I did and will do."
In a further attempt to show he had not acted alone, Cardinal Bertone added that "the secretary of state works in a team of five, a fine group that works very much together" – a reference to the senior officials at the secretariat of state who worked alongside Cardinal Bertone, and who, unlike him, have been reconfirmed in their roles by Pope Francis.
Meanwhile, after taking over a Holy See allegedly characterised by gossip and back-stabbing, Pope Francis equated gossip with murder during a Mass he held yesterday at his residence at the Vatican. (© Daily Telegraph, London)