2022 – Cardinal Angelo Sodano, long-time ruler of the Vatican, dies

The news agency said the cardinal was hospitalized with pneumonia earlier this month after testing positive for Covid-19. He was in poor health for some time.

In a telegram sent to the cardinal’s sister Saturday, Pope Francis expressed his condolences.

“I remember his tireless work alongside many of my predecessors who entrusted him with important positions in Vatican diplomacy, including the exact position of Secretary of State,” Francis said.

Sodano had a long presence in the Vatican, having served two popes as Secretary of State and Dean of the College of Cardinals. Even after retirement, he remained influential.

But he was heavily criticized during the Church’s sexual assault crisis. During a 2005 meeting with then-US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, he was reported to have asked her to intervene in a sexual assault trial in Kentucky that cited the Vatican as a defendant. The National Catholic Reporter said at the time that she refused.

In the years that followed, he repeatedly came under pressure for downplaying sexual assault or preventing the scandal from being brought to light.