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Angelo Cardinal Sodano
His Eminence Angelo Cardinal Sodano (born November 23, 1927) is the Cardinal Secretary of State of Vatican City, first appointed by Pope John Paul II and later confirmed by Pope Benedict XVI. He became Pro-Secretary 1 December 1990, and full Secretary of State once he had been named a cardinal in the consistory of June 28, 1991.
A native of the diocese of Asti, Italy, he was ordained a priest there in 1950. In 1959 he moved to Rome and entered the direct service of the Holy See, serving as a secretary of nunciatures in Latin America and achieving the title of monsignor (he was named a Chaplain of His Holiness the day Pope Paul VI was elected) before becoming an official of the Roman Curia's Council for Public Affairs of the Church in 1968.
On November 30, 1977 he was appointed a titular archbishop and the nuncio to Chile, one of the countries where he had served as nunciature secretary. He returned to Asti to be consecrated a bishop before taking up his post. He returned to Rome in 1988 as Secretary of the Council For Public Affairs of the Church , which in 1989 became the Section for Relations with States of the Secretariat of State. (The occupant of this post is sometimes informally called the "Vatican foreign minister").
In 1994, Pope John Paul II named him Cardinal Bishop of the suburbicarian see of Albano, and on November 30, 2002, exactly twenty-five years after he was first appointed a bishop, he was elected vice-dean of the College of Cardinals in succession to Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, who became Dean. With Ratzinger's election as Pope Benedict XVI Sodano is likely to be the next Dean.
As Secretary of State, it was Cardinal Sodano who was the principal celebrant at the funeral mass for John Cardinal O'Connor, Archbishop of New York. When he turned 75 in 2002 the Pope specifically invited him to stay on as Secretary of State, though this is the customary retirement age for heads of major Vatican departments (there is no retirement age for the Deanship or Vice-Deanship). He was close to Pope John Paul II.
After the death of Pope John Paul II in 2005 Sodano was seldom seen as one of the Papabili, or the cardinals likely to become the next Pope, due to his advanced age (although he is seven months younger than John Paul's successor, Benedict XVI) and his lack of experience outside the Roman Curia. Cardinal Secretary of State is one of the positions in the Curia that ends when the current pope dies. Although Cardinal Sodano is past the customary retirement age he was reappointed to the position by Benedict XVI on April 21,2005.
He caused controversy near the end of John Paul II's papacy by suggesting John Paul II could consider retiring.
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