Until Created Cardinal, Archbishop Pietro Parolin, Will Be PRO-Secretary Of State, Holy See, Not Secretary Of State.

Anura Guruge, June 8, 2013.

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Anura Guruge


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Click to access original Vatican announcement.

Click to access original Vatican announcement.


In their excitement to break the news the media is losing sight of two key points.

First: Appointment is as of October 15, 2013; not immediate.

Second: Only a CARDINAL can be Secretary of State, Holy See. Pietro Parolin is not a cardinal as yet — though now a cardinalate is guaranteed. ‘Pro-‘, in Latin, means ‘acting’. So until he becomes a cardinal his official title is Pro-. This is true for the heads of nearly all of the important curial dicasteries. You have to be a cardinal in order to officially head them. If not, you can still hold the office, but not the title!

That it is ‘Pro-‘ is not a problem. Quite a few Secretaries of State started off as Pro-, including the current Dean of the College, the holder of three Roman titles (churches), Angelo Sodano.

What is funny is that just yesterday I started thinking about cardinalabili and the next consistory now that my work on comets was coming to an end. November has traditionally been popular for consistories. A November consistory would work. But, then again Pope Francis, not that interested in tradition, might take my recommendation and just have a micro-consistory and just create Parolin.

I, a confirmed pedant, especially when it comes to papal history, just wanted to make sure that we all had the facts right.

I am, of course, sorry to see the departure of ‘my man’, My Lord, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, who in my opinion (and I do follow curial politics better than most) was an outstanding Secretary of State. Thank YOU, Lord Bertone for all of your wonderful work, non-stop inspiration and for being a good and decent human being.



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