The Camerlengo of the Holy Roman Church (“Chamberlain”) is the administrator of the property and the revenues of the Holy See, and is always a Cardinal.
Tarcisio Pietro Evasio Bertone, S.D.B. (born 2 December 1934) currently serves as Cardinal Secretary of State and Camerlengo.
Until a successor Pope can be elected, the Camerlengo serves as acting head of State of the Vatican City. He is not, however, currently responsible for the government of the Catholic Church during a sede vacante. Universi Dominici Gregis placed that task in the hands of the College of Cardinals.
The Camerlengo, though, does keep his office during the sede vacante, as opposed to the rest of the Roman Curia, and functions as the executive director of Vatican operations answerable to the College of Cardinals during an interregnum, primarily to carry out the College’s decisions with regard to arranging the funeral of the late pope and the events leading up to the conclave. The only other person who keeps his office is the Major Penitentiary.
Up until recent times, upon the death of a Pope, it was the duty of the Cardinal Chamberlain to perform a ceremony officially identifying the body of the deceased. Accompanied by the officials of the Apostolic Camera, the Camerlengo approaches the death-bed of the pope. The face of the pope, which had been covered with a white cloth, is revealed. The Camerlengo and all those present kneel in meditation. They rise and the Camerlengo performs the ritual of absolution. The Dean of the College of Notaries reads a document called the ‘Rogito’, the papal equivalent of a death certificate and record of the proccedings of that day. The Fisherman’s Ring is handed over to the Camerlengo by the Papal Maestro di Camera, who is its usual custodian. The ring is shown to the Cardinals present at the First Consistory after the death of the pope, and is defaced in their presence, along with the official papal seal.