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Vatican's No. 2 official praised

Associated Press

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 pope took his position in a brief letter issued by the Vatican on Wednesday as the pope prepares his departure for his summer retreat.

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.

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