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Cardinal Bertone seen seeking sway over bishops' conferences in Italy, US, Brazil

February 11, 2010

This week's heated Vatican denial of any involvement in the ouster of an Italian Catholic newspaper editor is only the latest in a series of conflicts between the Secretariat of State and the Italian episcopal conference, according to Sandro Magister of L'Espresso. The veteran Vatican journalist writes that Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone has sought to curb the independence of the bishops' conference in Italy-- and likewise the conferences in the US and Brazil. "The antagonism between the secretariat of state and the bishops' conferences is a classic of the Church's recent history," he argues.

In Italy, Magister says, Cardinal Bertone has faced stiff opposition in his efforts to gain control over the bishops' conference. The Secretary of State has used the Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, as his reliable instrument in several policy disputes, and has made the argument that any attack on his policies is implicitly an attack on the Pope. However, Magister adds, while Cardinal Bertone enjoys the Pope's confidence, it is widely believed that the Pope's outlook on Italian public affairs is closer to that of Cardinals Ruini and Bagnasco-- the champions of the Italian bishops' conference- than that of his own Secretary of State.


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