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VATICAN CITY (LifeSiteNews) – Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the powerful former Vatican Secretary of State for two popes, has died aged 94.

Cardinal Sodano died May 27, after having been hospitalized in Rome’s  Columbus Hospital-Gemelli for COVID-19 since May 9. 

Sodano, who has been described as the “Vatican’s Godfather,” was mired in controversy over his alleged role in covering up clerical sexual abuse, particularly in the case of Marcial Maciel and ex-cardinal Theodore McCarrick.

The Holy See was swift to announce Sodano’s death, and Pope Francis sent a telegram to the cardinal’s sister, Maria Sodano, expressing “gratitude” for the late cardinal and his “solitary work in support of three of my predecessors.”

“The death of Cardinal Angelo Sodano arouses in my soul feelings of gratitude to the Lord for the gift of this esteemed man of the Church, who lived his priesthood with generosity,” wrote Francis.

Francis described Sodano as an “ecclesially disciplined man, an amiable pastor,” who carried out his “mission with remarkable dedication” in the Roman Curia. 

The office for the Secretary of State for the Holy See stated over Twitter that it was “united in prayer over the loss” of the cardinal.

Sodano served as Vatican Secretary of State from 1991 through June 2006, under both Pope John Paul II and Benedict XVI. Benedict XVI re-affirmed Sodano as Secretary of State in 2005 despite the cardinal being past normal retirement age. 

He was then appointed by Benedict XVI to be the Dean of the College of Cardinals in April 2005, a position he held until December 2019. Sodano had already served as vice-dean of the College of Cardinals in 2002. 

Sodano’s span at the Vatican lasted 60 years, for he joined the Holy See’s Diplomatic Corps in 1959 and spent time as Nuncio in Chile before ascending to power under John Paul II as Secretary of State.

Papa Francesco con il cardinale Angelo Sodano
Pope Francis and Cardinal Sodano. Credit: Vatican News

Despite Pope Francis’ praise for the cardinal, Sodano has been mired in controversy, accused of covering up clerical sexual abuse, and even of being an active homosexual himself.

Abuse cover-up

The highly influential cardinal was very closely linked to the pedophile priest Marcial Maciel, founder of the Legionaries of Christ,  and was said to have protected and covered up for Maciel. As LifeSiteNews has previously reported, Sodano actively blocked efforts in the Vatican to investigate and reveal Maciel’s sexual improprieties.

READ: Sodano’s ‘Head Should Roll’: Report Reveals Close Ties Between Vatican Cardinal and Disgraced Legion Founder Maciel

These allegations were echoed by former Nuncio to the U.S. Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò in his first testimony in August 2018, saying that “the person chiefly responsible for covering up the misdeeds committed by Maciel was then-Secretary of State Cardinal Angelo Sodano.”

In a subsequent testimony early 2020, Archbishop Viganò noted that Sodano “is certainly no stranger to McCarrick’s promotions…” The archbishop highlighted Sodano’s role in downplaying allegations about ex-cardinal Theodore McCarrick’s sexual abuse, an action seen to be possible due to Pope John Paul II’s declining health and Sodano’s corresponding rise in power.

As noted by Luis Badilla in 2020, Sodano was “the real center of power in the context of the curial nomenklatura: from appointments in general to the curial game of ‘rise and fall’.”

“For years a leaf did not move in the Vatican unless Cardinal Sodano wanted it to,” said Badilla, adding how John Paul II’s pontificate was also the “reign’ of the Angelo Sodano-Stanislaw Dziwisz tandem.”

READ: Vatican sent bishop suspected of homosexuality to investigate abuse-ridden monastery

Following Sodano’s appointment by John Paul II as Secretary of State in 1991, “the power of Cardinal Sodano became total, absolute, incontrovertible, and often more incisive than that of Pope John Paul II.”

Active homosexual?

Following Sodano’s death, New York Times’ bestselling author Frederic Martel wrote that the cardinal was “La Montgolfiera,” a previously un-identified active homosexual in Martel’s book Sodoma (In the Closet of the Vatican). Himself a homosexual, Martel stated: “My rule was not to reveal the homosexuality of a living priest or cardinal. Now that he is dead, the truth can be written.”

In another tweet, Martel described Sodano as a “Great diplomatic figure, #2 in the Vatican under John Paul II, far-right nuncio in Chile, friend of Pinochet, active homosexual, defender of countless pedophile priests…He was the hero of my book #Sodoma (La Mongolfiera).” (Emphasis added.)

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