Pope Francis appoints Parolin as 'Vatican PM' in reform

Pietro Parolin
Image caption Pietro Parolin is a veteran Vatican diplomat

Pope Francis has appointed a new prime minister as part of his initiative to reform the Vatican, replacing Tarcisio Bertone with a veteran diplomat, Pietro Parolin.

Cardinal Bertone, appointed by Francis' predecessor, Pope Benedict, had been widely criticised over last year's so-called "Vatileaks" scandals.

Leaked documents revealed corruption and infighting at the Vatican.

Last month Cardinal Bertone said he had been the victim of "moles and vipers".

"Of course there were a lot of problems, particularly in the last two years, and some accusations were levelled against me," he said.

"But this should not darken what I see as a positive overall result. We missed some things, also because problems were kept locked away by some people who did not contact the Secretariat of State," he added.

Cardinals welcomed the choice of Archbishop Parolin who is seen as a reformer and known for his efforts to improve relations with China and Israel.

The French cardinal, Jean-Louis Tauran, told Vatican radio that Archbishop Parolin was "an excellent choice, an efficient man, a good negotiator, very balanced."

Pope Francis has already set in motion the reform of the Vatican Bank which has allegedly been turning a blind eye to money-laundering by some of its clients. He has also appointed a committee of Catholic economists to advise him on improving accounting methods and financial transparency.

But the appointment of his new secretary of state is seen by Vatican watchers as the most important single administrative act carried out by the new Pope since his election last March.

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