The Holy See
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Castel Gandolfo
Friday, 15 September 2006


Most Holy Father,

On the day when I am assuming the office of Secretary of State of Your Holiness, my thoughts go first of all to you, who have called me to succeed the venerable Cardinal Angelo Sodano. I address my most filial sentiments and faithful respect to you, Holy Father, as I receive the "torch" that the capable and productive ministry of the first Collaborator of the Holy Father has been able to "keep alight" from generation to generation, at the service of the Church and of the world. I have brought with me today Cardinal Agostino Casaroli's cross, which a distinguished Prelate has kindly given to me.

I am undertaking a special mission, different from those previously entrusted to me. I am, however, pleased that its undeniably pastoral character gives continuity to the missions I have formerly carried out, which fit in well with the specific nature of this office.

I am also confident that the experiences I have seen to completion in the past, guided by the wise hand of Divine Providence, will make a substantial contribution to the fulfilment of the task I am taking on today.

I am aware of the heavy responsibility it entails as well as of the seriousness and complexity of the matters I will have to deal with daily. My only ambition is to put into practice the motto of my episcopal service: fidem custodire, concordiam servare, and I am comforted by the conviction that I will have the opportunity to contribute in a special way to achieving this ideal.

Furthermore, it is a great encouragement to me to be certain that I can rely first and foremost on the Holy Father's wise and incomparable guidance and, at the same time, on the competence, experience and hard work of the Superiors of the Secretariat of State.

However, I also have great trust in the irreplaceable and often hidden work carried out daily with a spirit of sincere and admirable self-denial by all the staff of the Secretariat of State and of the Papal Representations. The deep communion that binds us in our common commitment to serving the Church - hence, also human dignity and peaceful coexistence between peoples - cannot but be expressed in loyal and faithful collaboration, strengthened for many of us by the priestly spirit and pastoral love that must always motivate us in our activities.

Every morning, since the years of my former activity in Rome, I have raised this prayer: "O Lord, remember the Pope and his collaborators, present and future". And on this very day I have written a letter to numerous contemplative monasteries asking them for their ongoing help with prayers of intercession.

Thus, from this moment, with filial trust I place this collaboration and my new ministry with filial confidence in the hands of Mary, Mother of the Church. She will help us to do everything the Lord tells us through you, Your Holiness!