Cardinal Bertone defends himself against accusations of luxury

Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone at his apartment in the Apostolic Palace, March 7, 2014. Credit: Alan Holdren/CNA.

In an open letter, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone has addressed accusations that he had angered Pope Francis with his “luxurious” new residence, saying he and the pope are on good terms.

“I am personally grateful to Pope Francis for having called me April 23 to express his solidarity and his disappointment for the media attacks about the apartment, of which he had been informed as soon as the article was published,” the emeritus Secretary of State wrote in an open letter published in the magazines of the archdioceses of Vercelli and Genoa, both of which he led for a time.

Italian daily La Repubblica published an article April 20 claiming that the cardinal was moving into a lavish 6,500 square foot apartment in the Vatican’s San Carlo Palace, while Pope Francis has been urging clerics to adopt a modest lifestyle.

According to La Repubblica, the Pope himself had been angered by the luxury of Cardinal Bertone’s new apartment.  

The paper claimed that the restructure combines two apartments, one formerly the home of the head of the gendarmerie, and another once home to a Vatican monsignor.

Three nuns who worked with him while he was Secretary of State will live with him in his new residence.

San Carlo Palace is a few steps from Domus Sanctae Marthae, the Vatican guesthouse where Pope Francis resides.

La Repubblica’s article caused a certain media frenzy in Italy.

Cardinal Bertone did not make any official statement, but in the end decided to send a letter to the weekly magazines of the two dioceses where he had been ordinary, in order “to thank the friends” from the dioceses who showed him support for the media reports and also for “those who may have been surprised by the news.”

Cardinal Bertone stressed that the source of the article “doubled the size” of the apartment he is going to live in, and complained that “it was even said that the Pope angered with me for living in so much luxury.”

He explained that the apartment “is temporarily given to me” and that “after me, someone else will be living in it.”

He added that the apartment is a typical size for the Vatican palaces, and that he renovated it “at my own expense.”

“As Pope Saint John XXIII used to say, ‘I do not stop to collect the stones launched against me’,” Cardinal Bertone wrote, concluded the letter.


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Archbishop José H. Gomez

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November 21, 2014

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