Vatican City: Change at the Top

September 21, 2021
Cardinal Giuseppe Bertello

Pope Francis has just appointed a Spanish prelate as president of the governorate of the Vatican City State. A key position within the framework of the reform of the Roman Curia, one which was at the heart of the Vatileaks turmoil in 2012.

Cardinal Giuseppe Bertello will step down as President of the Vatican City State Governorate on October 1, 2021.

The official communiqué, published by the Press Room of the Holy See on September 8, immediately announced the name of his replacement: Msgr. Fernando Vergez Alzaga.

This Spanish prelate - 76 years old, therefore beyond the theoretical limit of 75 years which Pope Francis has taken the habit of waving aside - will take over the position in the Vatican City State as head of the structure which exercises the executive power in the name of the sovereign pontiff.

Directorate of Finance, Directorate of Security Services, Museums, Economic Services, and Pontifical Villas... suffice to say that the president of the governorate occupies a strategic place in the organizational structure of the Roman Curia.

Msgr. Vergez Alzaga succeeds Cardinal Giuseppe Bertello, who has led the smallest state in the world since 2011, when he was appointed by Pope Benedict XVI.

Msgr. Bertello graduated in 1971 from the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy - the school of the nuncios – and then entered the service of the Secretary of State for which he carried out numerous, and sometimes perilous, diplomatic missions around the world.

In 2002, he played a decisive role, alongside Cardinal Josef Ratzinger, in the investigation launched against the founder of the Legionaries of Christ, Fr. Martial Maciel Degollado.

In 2011, as power struggles and rumors of financial fraud rock the walls of the Apostolic Palace, Pope Benedict XVI reorganized the governorate by calling on Msgr. Bertello, a diplomat intimately familiar with the secrets of the Vatican.

A few months later, the Vatileaks scandal broke out, and implicated several years of management of Vatican City while not sparing the new president of the governorate in the process.

Francesca Chaouqui, member of the Vatican Finance Commission, a key figure in Vatileaks sentenced to an eighteen-month suspended prison sentence in July 2016, publicly bragged about Cardinal Bertello's friendship, “one of the magnificent eight who must reform the Curia,” according to her.

After his election in 2013, Pope Francis kept the high prelate in his post, and appointed him a member of the Council of Cardinals responsible for preparing the text of the reform of the Roman Curia.

This apostolic constitution, which should be promulgated at the end of 2021, according to an announcement made by the successor of Peter himself.