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Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Vatican Energy Dealer, Dies at 94

ROME — Cardinal Angelo Sodano, who rose to the head of the Roman Catholic Church because the Vatican’s most sensible diplomat, without equal energy dealer of the papal courtroom and the deeply influential dean of cardinals earlier than seeing his reputation stained through his reference to the cover-up of intercourse abuse scandals, died on Friday. He was once 94.

His demise was once introduced through the Vatican, which failed to say the place he died or cite a purpose.

Cardinal Sodano served as secretary of state, the second-highest-ranking place within the Vatican after the pope, for 16 years. His tenure lined a significant portion of the preach of John Paul II, who as soon as described him as “my first and treasured collaborator.” As Parkinson’s illness and different diseases debilitated John Paul II, Cardinal Sodano, in conjunction with the pope’s personal secretary, performed an outsize position in working the church.

The cardinal mediated within the Balkan wars and vigorously opposed the George W. Bush administration’s war in Iraq. In 2003 he told reporters, “We’re soliciting for mirrored image now not handiest on whether or not a battle can be simply or unjust, ethical or immoral, but additionally if it is opportune to aggravate 1000000000 fans of Islam.”

However Cardinal Sodano is maximum identified within the church for the facility he ceaselessly exercised inside the Vatican hierarchy, together with to dam investigations of sexually abusive monks and to additional his conservative and anticommunist imaginative and prescient of a church that put coverage of the establishment above all else. In 2010, talking throughout a public Easter cope with, he infamously referred to as accusations of abuse “petty gossip.”

In 2019, Pope Francis permitted Cardinal Sodano’s resignation as dean of the School of Cardinals, pronouncing sort phrases but additionally making clear that the church had to modernize and issuing a decree so as to add time period limits to the dean’s position.

Francis, understanding Cardinal Sodano’s sway within the Vatican, the place he had nurtured the careers of many most sensible officers, was once all the time cautious to turn him appreciate, together with in demise.

“The passing of Cardinal Angelo Sodano stirs in my soul emotions of gratitude to the Lord for the present of this esteemed guy of the church,” Francis wrote in a word of condolence on Saturday. He added, “I recall his diligent paintings along such a lot of of my predecessors who entrusted him with necessary tasks in Vatican international relations,” and he credited the cardinal with running for reconciliation in South The us, the place Francis, an Argentine, is from.

Angelo Raffaele Sodano was once born on Nov. 23, 1927, in northern Italy to Delfina Brignolo and Giovanni Sodano, a political candidate, however his occupation and connections would turn out to be deeply rooted in South The us, the place he labored within the church’s diplomatic corps as a tender priest. In 1977, Pope Paul VI despatched him to Chile because the papal ambassador. He navigated, and critics say grew exceedingly with reference to, the army dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet in addition to to a charismatic priest, the Rev. Marcial Maciel Degollado, the founding father of the Legionaries of Christ, a distinguished and financially beneficiant spiritual motion based in Mexico that fueled the church with monks, universities, media shops and cash.

John Paul II, sharing his anticommunist zeal, made him Cardinal Sodano in 1991 and shortly increased him to secretary of state, a place from which the cardinal exercised close to unequalled energy within the Vatican.

Critics have lengthy argued that Cardinal Sodano abused that energy and known him as a dominant pressure for the secrecy and malfeasance that alienated many trustworthy from the hierarchy in Rome throughout John Paul II’s preach.

Cardinal Sodano was once “the person who, greater than another, embodies the misuse of energy that has corrupted the church hierarchy,” Jason Berry, a reporter who lined the church’s sexual abuse scandals, wrote in a New York Times guest essay in 2013.

In L’Osservatore Romano, the church’s reliable newspaper, Cardinal Sodano in 2010 referred to as the abuse accusations “unfair assaults” that had been “used as a weapon in opposition to the church” through its enemies.

He overruled efforts to induce Pope John Paul II to talk out in opposition to abusive monks, reminiscent of with regards to Cardinal Hans Hermann Groër. The pope remained silent on that scandal, despite the fact that Cardinal Groër’s successor as archbishop of Vienna, Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, mentioned that he was once “morally positive” of his predecessor’s guilt. Cardinal Schönborn told reporters several years later that Cardinal Sodano “actually mentioned — to my face — ‘Sufferers? That’s what you assert!’”

However complaint of Cardinal Sodano ceaselessly focused on his connection to, and coverage of, Father Maciel, the Legionaries of Christ founder, who engaged in many years of molestation of kids and of seminarians, abused medication, fathered youngsters, and hired his order’s huge monetary belongings — billions of bucks, in accordance to a few estimates — to purchase affect within the church’s management. The ones revelations, and Cardinal Sodano’s it seems that profiting from Father Maciel’s largess, forged a protracted shadow on John Paul II’s complete papacy.

Pope Benedict XVI pushed aside Father Maciel from ministry in 2006. He died in 2008.

“We settle for and be apologetic about that, given the gravity of his faults, we can not take his particular person as a fashion of Christian or priestly existence,” the Legionaries conceded in 2010.

Cardinal Sodano lengthy denied accusations that he had safe Father Maciel.

In 1998, accusations in opposition to Father Maciel crossed the table of an impressive German cardinal, Joseph Ratzinger, who led the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Religion, which treated abuse circumstances. Cardinal Ratzinger ordered an investigation, however within the face of opposition — led, critics say, through Cardinal Sodano — Cardinal Ratzinger tabled the investigation for years.

Cardinal Ratzinger became Pope Benedict XVI in 2005. A yr later, he changed Cardinal Sodano.

However for just about any other 15 years, Cardinal Sodano served as dean of the School of Cardinals, despite the fact that he had handed the balloting age of 80 to take part within the 2013 conclave to elect a brand new pope after Benedict’s resignation.

Vatican analysts reported that Cardinal Sodano used his influence to profit Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, who was elected in that conclave and took the identify Francis. However the cardinal’s affect waned within the new preach, which sought, albeit with combined effects, to confront the church paperwork that Cardinal Sodano had lengthy managed.

Francis has additionally taken important steps to shed light on the Vatican’s missteps in dealing with the scourge of sexual abuse, strikes that didn’t all the time mirror smartly on Cardinal Sodano.

In Chile, Cardinal Sodano had additionally turned into with reference to Fernando Karadima, any other charismatic priest, who had turn out to be influential a few of the social elite of the capital, Santiago, and who had deep connections to the rustic’s army regime. As early because the Eighties, accusations surfaced that Mr. Karadima had abused boys, however Chilean prelates steadily pushed aside the costs.

The reality exploded a few years into the pontificate of Francis, who, disastrously, selected to consider his bishops over the abused, even accusing sufferers of calumny. The ensuing disaster stuck the pope flat-footed and made him glance tone deaf. Within the wake of the talk, Francis modified tack and set in movement new norms for responsibility and transparency within the church geared toward combating additional abuse and keeping to account those that conceal it up. Francis defrocked Mr. Karadima in 2018.

On his ninetieth birthday, Cardinal Sodano returned to his fatherland, close to Asti, the place he was once ordained in 1950.

“That is the hour of sundown,” he mentioned. “It’s time to mention thanks.”

Anna Momigliano contributed reporting.


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