Pope Francis paid tribute to “this esteemed man of the Church, who lived his priesthood with generosity (…) in the service of the Holy See”, in a telegram addressed to his family and published by the Vatican. His funeral will take place Tuesday at St. Peter’s Basilica in the presence of the Pope.

John Paul II had made him his number two by appointing him Secretary of State in 1991 after having made him cardinal. As such, he accompanied the pope on some fifty trips abroad.

Benedict XVI, immediately after his election in 2005, confirmed him in his post, where he remained until September 2006. Cardinal Sodano was therefore number two in the Vatican for almost 15 years.

In 2005, he also became dean of the college of cardinals, which he therefore directed at the time of the resignation of Benedict XVI in February 2013. But aged over 80 and having therefore lost his quality of cardinal elector, he did not was able to participate in the conclave responsible for electing the new pope.

Born on November 23, 1927, he was the second of six children in a rural family in Piedmont. A graduate in theology and canon law in Rome, he first embarked on a diplomatic career, occupying several posts, notably in South America.

In 1977, he was appointed Apostolic Nuncio to Chile by Paul VI, where he advocated an accommodating attitude with the military regime of dictator Augusto Pinochet.

Returning to Rome in 1988, he became Cardinal Secretary of State Agostino Casaroli’s right-hand man and in 1989 was appointed Secretary for Relations with States, a post equivalent to that of Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Cardinal Sodano has been at the center of several controversies. He is notably one of the central characters of the book “Sodoma: Enquête au cœur du Vatican” by Frédéric Martel, in which the French journalist denounces his lifestyle in Rome and his links with Pinochet when he was nuncio in Chile.

Finally, according to the weekly National Catholic Reporter, Angelo Sodano would have protected the founder of the Legionaries of Christ, Marcial Maciel Degollado, who lived for many years with a woman with whom he had a child. Marcial Maciel is also suspected of sexual assault on children and seminarians.