VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Benedict XVI has defended the Vatican's No. 2 official, saying the Italian media have leveled "unjust criticism" at Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone.
Benedict praised the "enlightened advice" he receives from Bertone, the Vatican's secretary of state, saying it has been a "particular help" in recent months, reference to a scandal over leaked documents shaking the Vatican. The pope's butler has been arrested.
The Vatican on Wednesday issued a brief letter from Benedict, written just before he left on his summer vacation. He began his stay in Castel Gandolfo, in the Alban Hill south of Rome, on Tuesday evening.
The scandal over leaks has led to Italian media reports of power struggles and high-level rifts regarding factions opposed to Bertone. He has also generally been blamed in the secular press for a number of gaffes by Benedict.
But Benedict made clear he has no intention of doing without Bertone, who worked for years as his assistant when the then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger led the Vatican's doctrinal office before becoming pope.
Bertone is 77, already two years behind the normal Vatican retirement age.
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