Source: The Economist:
Recent years have been less glorious for the job of secretary of state, although it remains the top position in the Holy See’s administration, or curia, and is sometimes equated with “prime minister” of the Vatican. Its outgoing holder, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, seems to have allowed secretive cliques and lobbies to get out of control during his watch; this tarnished the papacy of Benedict XVI and may even have prompted his resignation.
In the latest of his initiatives to clean up the curia, Pope Francis has named a professional Vatican diplomat who has served in several highly sensitive places and has a reputation for being a discreet, dedicated professional. On August 31st it was announced that the 79-year-old Cardinal Bertone would be replaced by a stripling of 58—Archbishop Pietro Parolin (pictured), who for the past four years has been the papal envoy to Venezuela. That was a demanding enough job, given that the late president Hugo Chávez was as erratic in his treatment of the church as he was in everything else. Chávez loved to draw on populist Christian rhetoric and he seems to have died a good Catholic, but he reacted furiously whenever the church, however cautiously, took him to task for suppressing democracy. Yet Archbishop Parolin avoided public rows with the mercurial demagogue, who at one point questioned the need for Venezuela and the Holy See to exchange ambassadors.