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Cardinal says spacious pad 'normal' for Vatican palazzi, denies frugal Francis is angry at him

An Italian cardinal who served as the Vatican's No. 2 official is defending his new, sprawling apartment as "normal," and denies Pope Francis, who prizes frugality, is angry with him.

Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone was reacting to news reports last week claiming Francis was furious over his plans to move into a "mega-penthouse" in one of the buildings where Vatican prelates live on the tiny city-state's grounds. Bertone was secretary of state to Pope Benedict XVI. Francis replaced Bertone in the job last year.

In a post this week on the web site of the archdiocese of Genoa, where Bertone had been archbishop, he claimed Francis phoned him to express solidarity. Bertone says the Vatican's ancient palazzi are "normally spacious." Francis chose to live in a modest Vatican hotel next door.