The new Vatican no. 2 did not appear at a ceremony that would see him assume his new post because he was taken to the hospital for emergency surgery.
Pope Francis told guests at Tuesday's ceremony that Archbishop Pietro Parolin had to undergo surgery and would need several weeks to recover. Parolin was hospitalized while visiting his family in Italy's Veneto region, the Vatican revealed.
The day was scheduled to mark the transitional phase of the Vatican secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, who vacated his post after seven controversial years.
Francis welcomed Parolin "in absentia" as he thanked Bertone for his service, noting the difficulties and "thorns" that Bertone had endured.
"I want to thank you for the courage and patience with which you lived through the setbacks that you had to confront," Francis said. "There were a lot."
The news comes soon after German Catholic bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst of Limburg was sent to Rome to answer questions before the Vatican about an excessive $42 million sum he spent on a luxury residence.
"The bishop has made it clear that any decision about his service as a bishop lies in the hands of the Holy Father (Pope Francis)," a statement by the Limburg diocese read, according to Reuters.
"The bishop is saddened by the escalation of the current discussion. He sees and regrets that many believers are suffering under the current situation," the statement continued.
Tebartz-van Elst is also facing accusations of lying under oath about taking a first-class flight to visit poverty programs in India in a separate case.
Archbishop Robert Zollitsch, the head of Germany's bishops conference, previously said that the church must deal with the accused bishop, and acknowledged that the church's finances are on the line, the Associated Press reported.