The Pope has appointed an English Archbishop to one of the most senior posts in the Vatican. At the same time the conservative US cardinal Raymond Burke has been replaced as head of the Catholic church's supreme court in Rome.
Liverpool-born Archbishop Paul Gallagher, aged 60, currently the Nuncio to Australia, becomes the secretary for relations with states, in effect the Vatican's foreign minister.
According to Vatican Insider, Gallagher is a "competent prelate who is not part of any clique and has served well in all positions he has been appointed to so far."
Gallagher, fluent in English, Spanish, French and Italian, has kept a low profile outside the Church itself but his young age and his expertise could even make him a possible papabile at the next conclave. He could also be in line for a cardinal's red hat in the near future.
His predecessor, Archbishop Dominque Mamberti from Morocco, has been moved into Cardinal Burke's old job. Burke has been demoted to become patron of the Order of the Knights of Malta.
Archbishop Gallagher's titular post is Archbishop of Hodelm which is a former diocese in Scotland.
Vatican Insider notes that he was born in the same Liverpool neighbourhood where the Beatles got together. His first posts were assistant to the parish priest in Holy Name Church in Moss Pits Lane, Fazakerly and chaplain at Fazakerley hospital. He joined the Vatican's diplomatic corps in 1984 and has held posts in countries including Tanzania, Uruguay, the Philippines, Burundi, where he survived a bomb that had been intended for the presidential palace but hit his residence instead, and Guatemala. At one point, he was thought to be a possible candidate to succeed Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor as Archbishop of Westminster.
The National Catholic Review described him as "friendly, astute and courageous" and reported that his motto is "Walk humbly with God".
In a recent interview in the journal of the Melbourne archdiocese, Gallagher said Jesus' words, "what greater love has a man than to give his life for his friends," had inspired his vocation to the priesthood. He added: "I thought if I give my life to the priesthood, to the Church, I would be doing that as an act of love to my friends. That was really the roots of my becoming a priest."