Retirement Ceremony of Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone

At 12 o’clock today the ceremony of retirement from the office of Secretary of State of H.E. Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone took place in the Library of the State Secretariat in the presence of Superiors and Officials. The new Secretary of State, H.E. Monsignor Pietro Parolin, will take possession of his new office in a few weeks, because of a small surgical intervention he has had to undergo.

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Here is a translation of Pope Francis’ Letter of gratitude to Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the greeting given by the Pope in the course of the ceremony, and the outgoing Secretary of State’s address of homage to the Holy Father

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To the Venerable Brother


Camerlengo of the Holy Roman Church

The moment has arrived for you, dear Brother, to “pass the testimony” in the service of Secretary of State. Because of this, I wish to unite myself spiritually with you in rendering thanks to God for all the good that He has enabled you to do in this very delicate and demanding role. The memoria of Saint Teresa of Jesus, which on this date the liturgy has us celebrate, invites to fix one’s gaze on God: “Let nothing trouble you – the great Saint of Avila tells us – nothing affright you, whoever has God, lacks nothing.”

In this circumstance, I feel the need to express to you my heartfelt gratitude for the solicitude with which you have spent yourself in these seven years; and I do so also in the name of our beloved Benedict XVI; he called you from Genoa, where you were Archbishop, to come to Rome and entrusted to you the office of His Secretary of State on beginning September 15, 2006, and then also of Camerlengo of the Holy Roman Church. Seven years of intense work lived with great generosity and a spirit of service. I also was able to avail myself as well, up to today, of your expert collaboration.

There is an aspect for which I wish to express my appreciation to you in a particular way, and it is your fidelity to the spirit of Don Bosco, the Salesian spirit, which you were able to keep and witness while being absorbed in the many responsibilities connected with the task of helping the Successor of Peter. With the enterprise and love of the Pope that characterize the sons of Saint John Bosco, you have always carried out your task of guide in the Holy See’s international relations with dedication, so important in the exercise of the ministry of the Bishop of Rome. At the same time, you did not spare yourself in taking the Papal Magisterium and the Apostolic Blessing everywhere: in countries, dioceses, parishes, universities, institutions, associations. Our Lady has been close to you and has always assisted you in this precious ministry. May her maternal intercession obtain for you a heavenly recompense and the graces that are closest to your heart. May my Blessing also be the pledge of peace and of spiritual delight, which I impart to you from my heart and extend also with profound gratitude to your collaborators and persons dear to you.

From the Vatican, October 15, 2013


[Original text: Italian] [Translation by ZENIT]


Dear Friends, good morning!

We are gathered to thank Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, who today leaves the office of Secretary of State, and to give our welcome to Monsignor Parolin, but it will be a welcome “in absentia,” because he will take possession of his new office some weeks later in respect to today’s date, because of a small surgical intervention he has had to undergo.

At this moment I would like to share with you all a sentiment of gratitude. Dear Cardinal Tarcisio, I believe I interpret also the thought of my beloved Predecessor Benedict XVI in presenting to you the most heartfelt gratitude for the work carried out in these years. I see in you first of all a son of Don Bosco. We are all marked by our history. Thinking of your long service to the Church, be it in teaching , as in the ministry of diocesan Bishop and the work in the Curia, be it the office of Secretary of State, it seems to me that the thread is constituted in fact by the Salesian priestly vocation which has marked you since your early childhood, and has led you to carry out, indistinctly, all the tasks received with profound love of the Church, great generosity, and with that typical Salesian mixture which unites a sincere spirit of obedience and great freedom of initiative and personal inventiveness.

For every Salesian, love of the Church is expressed in an altogether particular way in love to the Successor of Peter. To feel oneself at the heart of the Church, precisely because one is with the Pope. And, in fact, because one is with the Pope, to participate in the vastness of the mission of the whole Church and the breadth of her evangelizing dynamism. And here I come to the second aspect that I wish to stress: the attitude of unconditional fidelity and absolute loyalty to Peter, distinctive characteristic of your mandate as Secretary of State, both to Benedict XVI and to me in these months. I was able to perceive it on many occasions and I am profoundly grateful to you for it.

Finally I wish to thank you also for the courage and patience with which you lived the adversities you had to face. There were so many. Among the dreams recounted by Don Bosco to his young men is that of the roses: do you remember it? The Saint sees an arbor full of roses and begins to walk in it, followed by many disciples. As he goes further in, however, together with the beautiful roses that cover the whole arbor, very sharp thorns sprout which wound and cause great pains. Whoever looks from outside sees only the roses, whereas Don Bosco and his disciples who were walking inside feel the thorns: many get discouraged, but the Virgin Mary exhorts them all to persevere, and in the end the Saint finds himself with his own in a very beautiful garden. The dream intends to represent the toil of the educator, but I think it can be applied also to any ministry of responsibility in the Church. Dear Cardinal Bertone, it pleases me at this moment to think that, although there were thorns, the Virgin certainly was not lacking in her help, and will not be lacking in it in the future: be sure of it, no? The wish we all hope for you is that you will be able to enjoy the treasures that marked your vocation: the presence of the Eucharistic Jesus, the assistance of Our Lady, the friendship of the Pope – the three great loves of Don Bosco: these three.

And with these thoughts we give also – in absentia – the most cordial welcome to the new Secretary. He knows the family of the State Secretariat very well; he has worked there for so many years, with passion and competence and with that capacity of dialogue and human dealing which are his characteristic. In a certain sense, it is as a returning “home.”

I would like to conclude thanking you all for the daily service you carry out, often in a hidden and anonymous way; it is precious for my ministry. I invite you all to pray for me – I am in such need of it – and I would like you to be sure of my prayer and friendship, of my closeness and of my gratitude for the work you do. Upon you and your dear ones I invoke the Blessing of the Lord. Thank you.

[Original text: Italian] [Translation by ZENIT]


Most Beloved Holy Father,

The words you have said come in fact from a heart permeated – I would say – of the Salesian spirit, also of the great Saint Ignatius of Loyola, to whose family you belong, therefore, with Don Bosco’s heart, for which I thank you. The conclusion of my responsibility as Secretary of State has coincided with the pilgrimage to Fatima on the anniversary of the last apparition and on the 60th of the dedication of the Basilica of the Holy Rosary. Someone has said that in that Shrine my mission ended with a golden key.

I had already been to Fatima for the dedication of the Basilica of the Most Holy Trinity, just over a year from the beginning of my mandate, and it pleases me to think that I have spent these years under the special protection of Mary.

It is difficult to sketch a complete balance of the seven years that have seen me close to Pope Benedict XVI and fo
r a brief but intense period of seven months – seven months! – close to Pope Francis. On the other hand, the memory of what was lived is shared with almost all those present because we worked together in different responsibilities with dedication and at times with sacrifice. And I thank you for it all.

What moved me with Pope Benedict XVI was to see the Church understand herself in depth as communion, and at the same time capable of speaking to the world, to the heart and to the intelligence of everyone, with clarity of doctrine and loftiness of thought. I mention only the great subjects of the relation between faith and reason, between law and natural laws; the great addresses among which it pleases me to recall that to the German Parliament and at Westminster Hall, as well as at the College des Bernardines at Paris; the appreciation of the common Christian identity of brothers of other Churches and Communities; the renewed theological dialogue with our elder Jewish brothers; the relations marked by reciprocal esteem with the Muslims (proof of these are the trips to Turkey and Lebanon) after the difficult ambiguity of the address at Regensburg , which made the Church a sought after and appreciated interlocutor; in fine, the encyclicals among which Caritas in veritate stands out in the political, social and economic scene, which a general consensus.

Pope Benedict XVI was a reformer of consciences and of the clergy. His pontificate was run through with intense pastoral projects: the Pauline Year, the Year for Priests and the one which is about to end, the Year of Faith. He suffered profoundly because of the evils that disfigure the face of the Church and because of this he equipped her with new legislation that will strike decisively at the shameful phenomenon of pedophilia among the clergy, without forgetting the setting up of the new normative in economic-administrative matters.

And when the Lord inspired him, after profound meditation and intense prayer, the decision of the renunciation: he consigned the Petrine ministry to his Successor who came from far away and was sent by the Spirit of Jesus.

I see today in Pope Francis not so much a revolution but continuity with Pope Benedict XVI although in the diversity of accents and of segments of personal life: our origins and our ways, as you have said, Holy Father, are different. I am thinking, for instance, of the World Youth Days at Madrid and at Rio de Janeiro: behold a call, a very beautiful harmony.

Listening, tenderness, mercy, confidence are the wonderful realities that I have experienced personally with you, Holy Father, in the many conversations, gestures, surprise telephone calls, in the tasks that you assigned to me. Thank you, Pope Francis, for your benevolence!

And to finish, I cannot but stress two expressions that reinforce this continuity: the gift of spontaneous and inspired counsel, projected to the future but rich in memory and then the fervent common Marian devotion. There is not more beautiful icon of two Popes than the one that photographs each one of them recollected in prayer before the statue of Our Lady, and of Our Lady of Fatima: at Fatima, in the Year for Priests in 2010, Pope Benedict and at Rome before the very same image in the Year of Faith, Pope Francis,  to put the whole Church in a state of penance and purification. It seems appropriate that we begin again from Fatima.

May Mary help Pope Francis and the new Secretary of State, His Excellency Monsignor Pietro Parolin, to whom we all send a cordial greeting and the hope of his coming soon to undo the knots that still impede the Church from being, in Christ, the heart of the world, horizon desired and incessantly invoked. This is our ardent prayer.

Thank you, Holy Father!

[Original text: Italian] [Translation by ZENIT]
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