BY STAFF REPORTER
POPE BENEDICT XVI has confirmed the election of Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Vatican secretary of state, as dean of the College of Cardinals.
The post became empty when Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who previously held it, was elected pope. The six top-ranking cardinals of the Roman Curia elected the dean from among their membership and approval of the election by Pope Benedict was announced last week at the Vatican.
Days earlier, Pope Benedict had promoted Nigerian Cardinal Francis Arinze, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments, to his former place among the cardinal bishops, as the rank of the six is called. Cardinal Arinze participated in the election of the new dean.
Church law says that the dean of the College of Cardinals must reside at the Vatican; he is considered first among equals within the college and performs mainly ceremonial tasks, except during the period between the death of one pope and the election of another.
Cardinal Sodano, 77, has served as Vatican secretary of state since late 1990.
In addition to the normal titular church assigned to cardinals as a sign of their belonging to the Diocese of Rome, the cardinal bishops are given an honorary title in one of the six dioceses on the outskirts of Rome.