Italian cardinal Angelo Sodano, right-hand man to former popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI, has died at the age of 94, the Vatican announced yesterday.
The Vatican power-broker cut a controversial figure in recent years, linked to many controversies, but wielded great influence over the church under the two popes in the 1990s and 2000s.
Pope Francis paid tribute to “this esteemed man of the Church, who fulfilled his priesthood with generosity... in the service of the Holy See,” in a telegram addressed to the family and published by the Vatican.
Sodano died on Friday in Rome where he had been hospitalised since May 9 after testing positive for Covid-19, according to the official news website Vatican News.
The Vatican did not provide details on his cause of death.
His funeral will be held tomorrow at St Peter’s Basilica, with Pope Francis attending.
John Paul II made Sodano his second-in-command when he named him secretary of state in 1991. Sodano accompanied him on around 50 foreign trips.
After Benedict XVI’s appointment in 2005, Sodano stayed in the post until September 2006.
The then pope also approved Sodano’s election as Dean of the College of Cardinals in 2005, remaining in the post at the time of Benedict XVI’s resignation in 2013.
Pope Francis then accepted Sodano’s resignation in 2019 after he garnered criticism over his support for priests accused of wrongdoing.
Critics condemned Sodano’s involvement in many scandals. Maciel lived for years with a woman with whom he had a child and was also accused of having sexually abused children and seminarians. He died in 2008.
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