VATICAN CITY — 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 the newspaper, 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.
San Carlo Palace is a few steps from the Vatican guesthouse where Pope Francis resides.
The article caused a certain media frenzy in Italy.
Cardinal Bertone did not make any official statement, but in the end, he decided to send a letter to the weekly magazines of the two archdioceses where he had been ordinary, in order “to thank the friends” from there 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 he complained that “it was even said that the Pope was angered with me for living in so much luxury.”
He explained that the apartment “is temporarily given to me”; “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 St. John XXIII used to say, ‘I do not stop to collect the stones launched against me,’” Cardinal Bertone wrote, concluding his letter.