Pope Benedict XVI has named Cardinal Agostino Vallini as the new vicar for the Rome diocese

Vatican City, Jun. 27, 2008 - Pope Benedict XVI has named a new vicar for the Rome diocese, to replace the retiring Cardinal Camillo Ruini.

Cardinal Agostino Vallini, the prefect of the Apostolic Signatura, will be the new vicar for Rome. His appointment confirms rumors that have circulated in Rome for several weeks. The Italian prelate will be replaced at the Apostolic Signatura by an American prelate, Archbishop Raymond Burke of St. Louis.

The son of an Italian police officer who was deported during World War II, Cardinal Vallini was ordained a priest of the Naples archdiocese in 1964, and became auxiliary bishop there in 1989. In 1999 he was appointed Bishop of Albano, and in 2004 he received his current assignment as prefect of the Apostolic Signatura-- the Vatican equivalent of the US Supreme Court. As the papal vicar for Rome he will also hold the title of Archpriest of the Roman basilica of St. John Lateran.

Cardinal Ruini's retirement had been anticipated for some time. At the age of 77, and suffering from heart problems, the Italian prelate said bluntly that his pastoral service "has ended" during a June 21 celebration of the 25th anniversary of his episcopal ordination. He had been the vicar of the Rome diocese since 1991.

Pope Benedict , for whom Cardinal Ruini has been a key ally, saluted the outgoing vicar for his years of service to the Church. In Rome, he said, that cardinal had "given an an example that goes beyond the initiatives of the moment, an example of commitment to thinking the faith in absolute conformity to the magisterium of the Church, with careful attention to the teachings of the bishop of Rome and, at the same time, while constantly listening to the questions that arise from contemporary culture and from the problems of modern society."

Pope Benedict recalled that Cardinal Ruini had served his predecessor, Pope John Paul II , through "a truly extraordinary time" as the 20th century ended and the 21st began. Like others who worked closely with John Paul II, including himself, Cardinal Ruini had been heavily influenced by this "true giant of the faith and of the mission of the Church," the Holy Father said.

Cardinal Ruini, the Pope continued, had served the Pontiff through his commitment to the pastoral work of the Romem diocese, his zeal for evangelical mission, and his "outstanding capacity for theological and philosophical reflection."

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