Reports: For Stato, Peter Taps Pietro

Whispers in the Loggia

Given this month’s traditional quiet on the beat, lest anyone forgot, August has meant these pages’ traditional hiatus… with a Pope rearing in the gate, however, indications are we’re off to an early launch for what’s looking to be a wild fall cycle.

According to multiple Italian reports this Friday, Pope Francis is tipped to name Archbishop Pietro Parolin – the 58 year-old nuncio to Venezuela, who served as the Vatican’s “deputy foreign minister” from 2002-09 – as his Secretary of State, the formal announcement expected in some quarters “as soon as tomorrow.”

Should the buzz pan out, Parolin would succeed Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone SDB – the formidable “Vice-Pope” of Benedict XVI – whose ascent to the post in 2006 without any experience in Vatican diplomacy caused apoplectic fits among the natives and created an enduring set of institutional grudges that arguably sabotaged Joseph Ratzinger’s pontificate.

While no shortage of speculation on the nod has made the rounds over these last several months – with Parolin in pole position throughout – an even more crucial question has largely gone ignored: namely, what the function of the Secretariat of State will be in a Roman Curia reshaped by a widely expected Franciscan shake-up, a project likely to be launched in earnest come early October following the Pope’s first formal summit with his “Super 8” group of cardinal-assistants hand-picked from around the globe.

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