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Ex-Vatican aide defends large home

VATICAN CITY — An Italian cardinal who served as the Vatican’s No. 2 has defended his new, sprawling apartment as ‘‘normal,’’ and denied that Pope Francis, who prizes frugality, is angry with him.

Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone was reacting to news reports last week claiming Francis was furious about his plans to move into a ‘‘mega-penthouse’’ in one of the buildings where prelates live on Vatican property. Bertone, an aide to Benedict XVI, served as the now retired pope’s secretary of state. Francis replaced Bertone in the powerful post last year.

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Francis says he wants a ‘‘poor’’ church. He chose to live in a smallish, three-room suite in a modest hotel on the Vatican’s grounds rather than the Apostolic Palace where predecessors lived.

In a post on the website of the Genoa archdiocese, where Bertone had been archbishop, he claimed Francis called to ‘‘express his solidarity and disappointment over the attacks on me about the apartment.’’

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