Vatican Round-up

Cardinal Bertone ‘knew about Pope Benedict’s resignation’ seven months before event

Former Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone knew Pope Benedict XVI was considering stepping down at Pope at least seven months before his resignation was announced, according to a Huffington Post interview. The cardinal says he had many doubts about Pope Benedict’s plan, and said they “debated the topic at length after it seemed already decided”, with Cardinal Bertone urging the then Pontiff to complete the third part of his Jesus of Nazareth and his encyclical on faith before his successor took over.

Cardinal Bertone also rejected criticisms of his involvement with the Vatican bank, saying that he had always worked and made decisions in accordance with the bank’s commission and the Pope.

With reference to Pope Francis’ efforts to combat abuse and his openness to acceptance and conversation with gay people and remarried divorcees, he cast the Pontiff’s approach as being in continuity with his predecessor. Asked about his visit to Cuba before the resumption of Cuba-US relations, he said the final announcement was “not something that just fell from heaven” and had “a lot of work behind it, including the intervention of Pope Francis”.

Archbishop queries wisdom of declaring Rome’s mystery €1.3bn

Munich’s archbishop Cardinal Reinhard Marx has questioned the wisdom of Cardinal George Pell having revealed that Rome has more than €1.3 billion in assets for which it has hitherto failed to account.

Cardinal Marx, president of the Council of the Economy to which Cardinal Pell’s Secretariat for the Economy reports, told the German Catholic News Agency that “such figures are not very helpful and I personally am always reticent about quoting figures. Assets figures only make sense if I connect them to the obligations I have.”

Despite disagreements, Cardinal Marx defended the role of the Secretariat, saying that, “Up to now it was not usual and to a certain extent impossible to conduct a real overall budget which was up to international standards. That must change.”

Everyone must have access to medicines – Archbishop Tomasi

States have a duty to ensure that medicines are “ available, financially affordable and physically accessible on a basis of non-discrimination to everyone”, according to Archbishop Silvio Tomasi, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations and Specialised Agencies in Geneva.

Addressing the UN’s Human Rights Council, Archbishop Tomasi drew on the Church’s experience in caring for the sick in more than 5,000 hospitals and 18,000 dispensaries throughout the world to call attention to how individual states and the international community as a whole have not fulfilled their responsibility to make “medicines and diagnostic tools affordable and accessible to the poorest and most marginalised populations in low-income countries and even in certain areas and among certain groups of people in high-and middle-income countries”.

Lamenting a tendency to direct research toward health issues in wealthier countries, he said, “This system can lead to total disregard for those who cannot afford the price of certain medical products and allow an imbalanced free trade system, and thus constitute a virtual monopoly”.

Children suffer most in this situation, he said, arguing that legitimate concern for intellectual property rights, “must be seen within the wider perspective of promoting the common good, building global solidarity and prioritising the life and dignity of the world’s most vulnerable people”.