Pope's 'prime minister' leaves hospital: Official

Pope's 'prime minister' leaves hospital: Official
Veteran diplomat Pietro Parolin (above) replaced scandal-hit cardinal Tarcisio Bertone as right-hand man to Pope Francis.

VATICAN CITY - The Vatican's new "prime minister", who was not able to attend his own instalment ceremony this month because he was undergoing surgery, has left hospital, the Vatican said on Friday.

Monsignor Pietro Parolin formally took over as Secretary of State on October 15, replacing the scandal-tainted cardinal Tarcisio Bertone.

Parolin, who was appointed by Pope Francis, is a skilled Vatican diplomat and has hinted at a reformist outlook in line with the new pontiff's.

"He is leaving hospital today. Everything went well," Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi said in a statement, adding that the 58-year-old cleric would be recovering "for the next few days".

Lombardi said Parolin had been treated in the hepatobiliary department of Padova hospital, which handles liver and gall bladder problems.

Vatican commentators had begun expressing concern in recent days over Parolin's true state of health.

The Secretary of State is a key position in the Vatican and is often seen as the pope's number two, with responsibilities for administering the Roman Catholic Church worldwide.

Bertone earlier this year grumbled that he was the victim of "moles and vipers" in the Vatican system during his heavily criticised seven-year tenure in which he proved a divisive figure.

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