Pope preparing key Vatican reshuffle

Pope Francis is preparing to replace the Vatican's powerful Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone in a key reshuffle for his papacy, Italian media reported on Friday, citing anonymous Vatican sources.

Bertone has held the post, considered a deputy to the pope, since 2006 and has proved a divisive figure in the Roman Catholic Church's central administration.

A series of leaks carried out by former pope Benedict XVI's butler last year revealed infighting between factions supporting and opposing the now 78-year-old Bertone.

He has been criticised for alleged mistakes, poor choices in appointments and favouritism.

The reports said Francis could make the announcement as early as Saturday and that Bertone's replacement would likely take up his duties in mid-October.

Bertone has reportedly been angered over recent events that further weakened his position, including the resignation of the director and deputy director of the Vatican bank due to a money laundering inquiry.

The pope last month also named a young Catholic communications expert, Francesca Chaouqui, to a Vatican economic reform committee. It was later found she had accused Bertone of being corrupt in a Twitter message.

The two most likely replacements quoted in the Italian press are archbishop Pietro Parolin, the current Vatican envoy to Venezuela, and the head of the Vatican City governorate Giuseppe Bertello.

Soon after being elected pope, Francis said he was temporarily retaining Vatican officials appointed by his predecessor but has quietly begun replacing them with an eye towards more fundamental reform.