Cardinal Sodano, right-hand man to two popes, dies at 94

His funeral will be held on Tuesday at St Peter’s Basilica, with Pope Francis attending


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Published: Sat 28 May 2022, 4:19 PM

Last updated: Sat 28 May 2022, 10:55 PM

Italian cardinal Angelo Sodano, right-hand man to former popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI, has died at the age of 94, the Vatican announced on Saturday.

Pope Francis paid tribute to “this esteemed man of the Church, who fulfilled his priesthood with generosity... in the service of the Holy See,” in a telegram addressed to the family and published by the Vatican.

Sodano died on Friday in his home region of Piedmont, northwestern Italy. The Vatican did not say what was the cause of death.

His funeral will be held on Tuesday at St Peter’s Basilica, with Pope Francis attending.

John Paul II made Sodano his second-in-command when he named him secretary of state in 1991. Sodano accompanied him on around 50 foreign trips.

After Benedict XVI’s appointment in 2005, Sodano stayed in the post until September 2006.

The then pope also approved Sodano’s election as Dean of the College of Cardinals in 2005, a role he kept until Benedict’s resignation in 2013.

Born on November 23, 1927, Sodano was the second of six children in a family living in rural Piedmont.

He studied theology and canon law before a diplomatic career with several posts abroad, especially in South America.


He was at the centre of many controversies. In one expose, National Catholic Reporter weekly alleged that Sodano protected Father Marcial Maciel, founder of the Legion of Christ religious order.

Maciel lived for years with a woman with whom he had a child and was also accused of having sexually abused children and seminarians.

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