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Last Updated: Thursday, 21 April 2005, 14:28 GMT 15:28 UK
Pope reappoints Vatican old guard
Pope Benedict XVI flanked by Cardinal Angelo Sodano (right) and Cardinal Eduardo Martinez Somalo
The Pope has chosen to largely maintain the status quo
Pope Benedict XVI has reappointed Cardinal Angelo Sodano as secretary of state, returning him to the role of the Vatican's second in command.

Other senior officials also retained their jobs as the new Pontiff opted to largely keep the same administration as his predecessor Pope John Paul II.

Experts say the decision is a sign that Benedict XVI wants to continue much in the vein of the late Pope.

One role still vacant is the new Pope's old job as the guardian of orthodoxy.

Experts say that possible successors as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith include Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn of Austria and Cardinal Francis George of Chicago.

Seeking unity

At 77, Cardinal Sodano is already two years past the normal retirement age for Vatican officials.

Pope Benedict XVI
I feel as if I can see [John Paul II's] smiling eyes and hear his words right now addressing me: 'Have no fear'
Pope Benedict XVI

The secretary of state's deputy, Archbishop Leonardo Sandri, who acted as spokesman for Pope John Paul II when he became incapacitated by illness and who announced his death to the crowds gathered in St Peter's Square, also retains his job.

Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo was also reconfirmed as the Vatican's foreign minister.

On Wednesday, Benedict XVI celebrated his first Mass as Pope, vowing to strive for the unity of all Christians.

Marking the start of his pontificate at the Vatican's Sistine Chapel, he said he felt inadequate at the responsibility of leading the Church.

He said he believed John Paul II was holding his hand.

The former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was elected head of the Roman Catholic Church on Tuesday.

He said his first planned foreign trip will be a return to his native Germany, for a youth conference in August.

He will be inaugurated as the 265th pope on Sunday, the Vatican has announced.




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