20 February 2015, The Tablet

Bertone 'victimised' for trying to push abuse reform

The former Vatican Secretary of State has claimed that he was victimised because he was trying to bring about reforms on abuse and transparency.

Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone was ousted in 2013 amid claims that he had failed to prevent the ethical and financial scandals that marked the eight-year reign of Pope Emeritus Benedict.

The Italian, now 80, was criticised for his mishandling of the abuse crisis after he suggested gay sexuality was to blame for the Church's child abuse scandals.

And last year he was placed under investigation in connection with a sum of 15 million that was paid from Vatican bank accounts to a television production company.

The cardinal, the effective “prime minister” and chief aide to Pope Benedict XVI for nearly all his pontificate, told the Italian edition of Huffington Post that he always carried out his work “in perfect synthesis” with the pope. “But I have taken steps, initiated procedures, reformed offices and made appointments that resulted in the progress or exclusion of people. And this could have led to some dissatisfaction,” he said.

Others were unhappy with his tackling of the child abuse scandal and implementing procedures for economic transparency and anti-money- laundering laws.

“The beginning of Benedict’s pontificate was very promising but then subsequent developments have shown that some difficulties were provoked to intentionally hurt the Church or me personally,” he alleged.

The cardinal said he knew in advance of Pope Benedict’s plans to resign in 2013 and tried to delay him at least until he had completed the encyclical he was working on, and his series on the childhood of Christ. But he said ultimately the Pope’s view was “When you take certain decisions before God, how can man interfere?”.

The cardinal says he maintains a good relationship with Pope Francis since his own retirement last year and speaks to him “whenever I want”. He dismissed claims that the Pope was furious last year when he retired to a luxury penthouse. Bertone claimed Francis assigned him the third-floor apartment and told him: “I have no problem with you living there.”

He even approved plans for the former Secretary of State to have a secretary, he claimed, saying, “That’s fine given that you have to write your memoirs: you have witnessed the reign of three popes.”

Cardinal Bertone also tried to deflect criticism that he had failed in his management of the Vatican Bank. He said: “I was neither the owner nor the despot of the bank. And every decision was always made in agreement with the Holy Father.”

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