Rorate Caeli

Bertone: a Secretary "of Church", not "of State"

Second part of our Interview Week.

Tarcisio Cardinal Bertone takes his position as Secretary of State on September 15. Andrea Tornielli (one of our favorite Vaticanists) went to visit Bertone in Genoa in his last days in the Ligurian capital, and the result was a great interview, made public yesterday and published in today's edition of Il Giornale.

Some interesting excertps:

[The Choice]

What is the reason for the choice of [your name by] Benedict XVI?

The question should be asked of the Pope. Nonetheless, I hope to be able to contribute to strengthen the spiritual mission of the Church, which transcends politics and diplomacy, even if the Secretary of State should use all the means to aid the mission of the Church in every sphere. Monsignor Bettazzi, Bishop emeritus of Ivrea, my native diocese, recommended that I should be a secretary "of Church" more than "of State". I agree with him.

[The Collegial Pope]

You were the second of Cardinal Ratzinger for seven years. What is his way of working?

I have had the gift of being able to work together closely with two extraordinary men of the Church, John Paul II and the then Cardinal Ratzinger. The latter's way of working is very collegial, with a great capacity of posing questions, of listening, of valuing the talents of all, even of the youngest and of the last arrival...

[The Supreme]

The Pope was Prefect for the Doctrine of the Faith, you were his number two: now the order recomposes itself. Will the Vatican become a great Holy Office?

I wish the correct name were used: the Holy Office is today a place, a palace, not the dicastery nor the way the dicastery works. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has certainly the function of protection of orthodoxy and, in this, to use the words of then Cardinal Ratzinger, develops a "democratic work", because it protects the faith of the simple [faithful], of those who do not write books, editorials, or go to talk shows. It is necessary to also remember, though, its fundamental role in the promotion of the faith in collaboration with the mission of the Church. Having been at that dicastery helps [me] to announce the Gospel in its entirety, without renouncing the approach which places man, the end of creation and redemption, in any country, culture, and condition, at the center.



You closely followed the publication of the secret of Fatima: are there [further] catastrophic revelations regarding the future or has everything been revealed and accomplished?

I met sister Lucia many times and had in my hands the declaration written by her on the matter. There are no further revelations of Fatima and the so-called Third Secret has been completely revealed. As for the catastrophisms, some said that sister Lucia did not close her eyes at night since she was so terrified of the imminent disasters. She answered me, "But if I did not sleep at night, how would I be able to pray all day long?" Sister Lucia recommended that credit should not be given to these announcements of misfortunes.


  1. Questions for Msgr. Bertone,

  2. Following this link and reading these questions with all their conjectural allusions and scandal-mongering implications, I wonder how long it will be until the enemies of Christ cease firing bullets and arrow at him. How sadly ironic that even the most powerful private revelation of the past 100 years has been turned into a pretext for disobedience.

  3. Nothing "sadly ironic" about asking for truthful answers to reasonable questions? Too bad none of the questions have been answered by the newly appointed Secretary of State Bertone...

  4. No, what's sadly ironic is the way various "Fatima devotees" (such as Christopher Ferrara) use the most conjectural evidence in order to malign the Magisterium and make vacuous accusations of a cover-up.

    The reason this is "ironic" is because true devotion to Our Lady of Fatima encourages an attitude of total submission and prayer toward the authority of the Church.

    Those "reasonable" questions are filled with a presumption of a cover-up. To take one example, the way it is interpreted that there is a contradiction about when John Paul II first saw the Fatima secret. The questions revolving around this are pointless or absurd since:

    1. Navarro-Valls may have easily been mistaken about John Paul II seeing the secret before the assassination attempt, or

    2. John Paul II may have seen it and then wanted to see it again after the attempt in order to discern whether the event fulfilled what he saw earlier. The Vatican statement did not explicitly say that he never saw the secret before. It says, "For his part, John Paul II asked to see the secret after the assassination attempt of May 13, 1981." I am quoting from memory, so forgive me if a word or two is out of place.

    But this strenuous effort to see discontinuity, contradiction and scandal at every turn is opposite to the disposition of faith. It does not dignify a response from his eminence, much less from his holiness.

  5. But this strenuous effort to see discontinuity, contradiction and scandal at every turn is opposite to the disposition of faith. It does not dignify a response from his eminence, much less from his holiness.

    Perhaps we can get a response from you then,

    Why is it that when Pius XII consecrated the "world" to Our Lady's Immaculate Heart that she said Pius XII needed to say Russia, even though more Bishops consecrated the world with Pius XII than what consecrated with John Paul II? Either Sister Lucia was right in 1942 and wrong in 1986 (presuming she actually said anything about it then and the letter to the non-existant St. Mary of the Trinity was not forged), or she was wrong in 1942 and right in 1986. But if it was the latter, why would the consecration not have worked in 1942? And the former well, that's more or less what we've been saying. However it obviously can't be both since they are mutually contradictory. It could not be wrong to consecrate the world in 1942 and suddenly right to do it in 1984 with fewer Bishops. That's not dissidence, it is calling a spade a spade.

  6. Many sources indicate that NONE of the world’s bishops participated in the pope’s 1942 and 1952 consecrations. This point is admitted by the Christopher Ferrara’s organization ( It also appears in Sr. Lucia’s letter to not “St. Mary of the Trinity” but to “Sr. Mary of Bethlehem” ( From this link you will see that Sr. Lucia reaffirmed this point in a letter to Matthew Fox. The Letter to “Sr. Mary of Bethlehem” was written in her own handwriting and you can see it in a book called “Documents on Fatima” (

    In any case, what was significant to Sr. Lucia was not how many bishops were physically present with the Holy Father when the consecration was made on March 25, 1984, but that the Holy Father had previously written to all the bishops asking them to unite with him spiritually. Thus the act was explicitly and publicly united with all the bishops throughout the world in a way that previous consecrations were not. Subsequent historical events have given divine confirmation to the validity of the consecration.

    The omission of specifically mentioning “Russia” is thus irrelevant. If the world was consecrated and Russia was in the world, then Russia was consecrated. If Sr. Lucia previously indicated otherwise, there is sufficient reason to believe she was mistaken. In any case, it is for the Magisterium alone to evaluate private revelations and do with them as it sees fit. It is not upon Marian apparitions, but upon Peter alone that Jesus promised to found his Church and guide her until the end of time. To use a private revelation to cast aspersion on this authority is not calling a spade a spade, it is unjustifiable dissidence.

  7. It is not upon Marian apparitions, but upon Peter alone that Jesus promised to found his Church and guide her until the end of time. To use a private revelation to cast aspersion on this authority is not calling a spade a spade, it is unjustifiable dissidence.

    This is an argument from silence. When did either Pope John Paul II or the current Holy Father demand we accept their spin on Fatima? For that matter when did a private revelation become an article of faith? Fatima itself is no more binding on the Church than the interpretation of Cardinal Sodano, Cardinal Ratzinger, Jacques Dupuis of Michail Gorbechev of the said event. To claim there is dissidence going on is specious. Otherwise Mother Angelica is a dissident, since she has never retracted her statement that she didn't believe we got the whole thing. I watched that episode, and remember well when she said it.

    As you said correctly, the Church was not founded on a Marian apparition, but on Peter. However that does not mean that on issues not requiring the assent of the whole Church we can not disagree or else speak our opinion.

    If it was not necessary that Russia be mentioned, why was Sr. Lucia so adamant about it in 1942?
    Lastly if Sr. Lucia was mistaken in the 1940s, how might we be able to trust that she was not mistaken in 1984?
    And if everything was fulfilled, why is it that we have seen no tangible conversion in Russia, but a strengthened commitment to totalitarian principles, government control of the media, re-arming, stronger restrictions of the true religion, the growth of Islam and the increase of abortion and secularism? Why does Putin still have missles pointed at us? If that's a conversion I'm a mouse. What is the hole point of Our Lady talking about consecrating Russia to her, and practically screaming through Sister Lucia for Russia to be consecrated in 1928, if a nice, non-offensive consecration of the "world" would have sufficed? For that matter where is the period of peace?

    As to the name I stand corrected, but I would like to see the evidence that there were no Bishops with Pius XII in 1942.

  8. I respect what you are saying here Athanasius, especially with regard to the fact that Fatima is a private revelation which as such is intrinsically unable to demand the assent of faith. But various aspects of this matter involve the ordinary and universal teaching authority and the hierarchical jurisdiction of the Church, respectful submission to which is very much an article of faith (Pastor Aeternus, Chapter 3) and canonical norm (CIC/83 c. 331, 752). It goes without saying—or at least it should—that there is nothing irreformable or dogmatically definitive about any magisterial act toward Fatima, but to reject these instructions as “spin” and thus to dissent to them is an unacceptable way to approach the authority of the Church.

    Beyond this I think it is specious to say that it is “spin” to interpret the fulfillment of Fatima in (1) the fall of the Soviet Empire, (2) the ousting of the Communist Party from totalitarian control of that state and (3) the peaceful conclusion of a cold war which had seemed inevitably destined for nuclear conflict. If you are looking for a greater fulfillment than this, I suggest that you are anticipating not the fulfillment of Fatima, but rather the second coming, whose timing will be unknown and unforeseen until it happens. If this were to happen as a direct function of the Pope’s consecration of Russia, it would not come like a thief in the night. This interpretation of Fatima would certainly contradict the revealed deposit of faith.

    If you look at my posting above you will find two references to Pius’ failure to formally enlist the cooperation of the world’s bishops. I have found conflicting testimony as to whether there were “no bishops” with him in 1942, but this is not the point. The point is that the pope formally united himself with “all the bishops” for the first time in 1984. Thus he fulfilled the last aspect of the consecration which began in 1942, which specifically named Russia in 1952, and which enlisted the cooperation of all the worlds bishops in 1984. John Paul II made explicit reference to the fact that he was “renewing” the Fatima consecration when he enlisted their participation. So even supposing that specific mention of Russia was a requirement, it would have been fulfilled by his formal renewal of the 1952 consecration, which mentioned Russia by name.

    In this instance, you do not have Sr. Lucia having been mistaken in either 1942 or 1984.


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