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Vatican Secretary of State
Head of the Secretariat of State of the Holy See
Secretary of State of His Holiness The Pope Secretarius Status Sanctissimi Papae
The Cardinal Secretary is appointed by the Pope, and serves as one of his principal advisors. As one of the senior offices in the Roman Catholic Church, the secretary is required to be a cardinal. If the office is vacant, a non-cardinal may serve as pro-tem secretary of state, exercising the powers of the Secretary of State until a suitable replacement is found or the Pro-Secretary is made a cardinal in a subsequent consistory.
The office traces its origins to that of secretarius intimus, created by Pope Leo X in the early 16th century to handle correspondence with the diplomatic missions of the Holy See, which were just beginning to become permanent postings instead of missions sent on particular occasions. At this stage the secretary was a fairly minor functionary, the Vatican administration being led by the Cardinal Nephew, the Pope's confidant usually taken from his family.
The imprudence of Pope Julius III in entrusting the office of Cardinal Nephew to his alleged lover Innocenzo Ciocchi Del Monte, a teenaged, virtually illiterate street urchin whom his brother had adopted a few years earlier, led to an upgrading of the Secretary's job, as the incumbent had to take over the duties the Cardinal Nephew was unfit for. By the time of Pope Innocent X the Secretary of State was always himself a Cardinal, and Pope Innocent XII abolished the office of Cardinal Nephew in 1692. From then onwards the Secretary of State has been the most important of the officials of the Holy See.
In 1968, Pope Paul VI's apostolic constitution Regimini Ecclesiae Universae further enhanced the powers of the Secretary, placing him over all the other departments of the Roman Curia. In 1973 Paul further broadened the Secretaryship by abolishing the ancient office of Chancellor of the Holy Roman Church and merging its functions into those of the Secretary.
^Bartolomeo Francesco de la Capra, Papal Notary, acted in the capacity of Vice Chancellor. S. Miranda indicates that Cardinal Marino Bulcani was named Vice Chancellor in February 1394 and occupied the post until his death on 8 August 1394, but Bresslau, Klewitz, Handbuch..., p. 262 make no reference to him and indicate that Bartolomeo Francesco de la Capra became Director of the Chancery no later than 2 May 1394.
^Gerard Faidit (1426-31) and Blasius Molino (1431-6) acted as Regents of the Chancery.
^Jean almost certainly was Vice Chancellor by 1433, when he attended the Council of Basel.
^Berardo Eroli (1453-7) and Juan de Mella (1455-7) acted as Regents of the Chancery.
^Pope Pius XII, having been the Secretary of State under Pope Pius XI, did not name a Secretary after the death of Cardinal Maglione in 1944. Beneath his direct supervision, the duties were divided between two protonotary apostolic, Domenico Tardini and Giovanni Battista Montini, who in 1952 were both named Pro-Secretary of State, for Extraordinary and Ordinary affairs respectively. In 1954 Montini (the future Pope Paul VI) left the Roman Curia to become Archbishop of Milan, but only under Pope John XXIII was Tardini named a Cardinal and full Secretary.