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VATICAN CITY (AP) -- Pope Benedict has defended the Vatican's No. 2 official, saying the Italian media have leveled "unjust criticism" against Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone.
Benedict praised the "enlightened advice" he receives from Bertone, the Vatican's secretary of state, saying it has been a "particular help" in recent months, referring to a scandal over leaked documents shaking the Vatican. The pope's butler has been arrested.
The scandal over leaks has led to Italian media reports of power struggles and high-level rifts regarding factions opposed to Bertone. He has also generally been blamed in the secular press for a number of gaffes by Benedict.
But Benedict made clear he has no intention of doing without Bertone, who worked for years as his assistant before he became pope.
The pope began his summer vacation in Castel Gandolfo south of Rome on Tuesday evening.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)