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New Vatican official hospitalized, misses own ceremony

Vatican City (AP) - The new Vatican No. 2 was a no-show at the ceremony to take over the reins of the Vatican administration, after being hospitalized for urgent surgery.

Pope Francis told the assembled guests at Tuesday's handover ceremony that Archbishop Pietro Parolin had had to undergo minor but urgent surgery while he was visiting his family in Italy's Veneto region. The Vatican says it would be several weeks before he actually starts working.

Parolin missed out on the ceremonial changing of the guard from the retiring Vatican secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, who was blamed for many of the gaffes and problems of the papacy of Benedict XVI.

Francis nevertheless welcomed Parolin "in absentia" as he thanked Bertone for his service.

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Washington Times