Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone of Italy, a longtime aide to Pope Benedict XVI and the first major church official to speak out against "The Da Vinci Code," was appointed Thursday as secretary of state, the Vatican's No. 2 official.

The pope also accepted the retirement of American Cardinal Edmund Szoka, 78, as governor of Vatican City and named Italian archbishop Giovanni Lajolo, 71, the Vatican's foreign minister, to succeed him.

Szoka is a former archbishop of Detroit.

The appointments nearly fill Benedict's team, which the German pontiff has been slowly assembling since assuming the papacy 14 months ago.

The Vatican said Benedict accepted the resignation of Cardinal Angelo Sodano, an Italian who has held the post of secretary of state for 15 years and at 78 is three years past the normal Vatican retirement age. The announcement said Sodano would remain in the post until Sept. 15.

Bertone, 71, worked closely for years with Benedict when he headed the powerful Congregation for the Faith, the Vatican's doctrinal watchdog. Pope John Paul II appointed him archbishop of Genoa in 2002.

Last year, Bertone sharply criticized Dan Brown's novel "The Da Vinci Code," saying the book espoused heresy and distorted the origins of Christianity. Although he broke the church's silence, he insisted he had not been put up by the Vatican to do so.