Pope Francis made several key decisions in establishing his Curia today, appointing new officials and confirming others in their positions in the Vatican.
The series of announcements includes the confirmation of top officials in key departments and the return of an American to the upper ranks of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith.
It has been over six months since Pope Francis announced he was temporarily confirming Vatican officials in their positions, taking "some time for reflection, prayer and dialogue, before any definitive nominations or confirmations."
On Sept. 21, some of those major decisions were made.
Most notably, Pope Francis has confirmed confidence in German Archbishop Gerhard Mueller as prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, and titular Archbishop Luis Francisco Ladaria Ferrer as the department's secretary.
The Doctrine department, like the traditionally powerful Secretariat of State, is a key resource for the popes in governing, leading and protecting the Catholic Church not only in Rome, but throughout the world.
The Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples' leadership also remained intact. Italian Cardinal Fernando Filoni continues as prefect. The highest-ranking Chinese official in the Curia, Archbishop Savio Hon Tai-Fai, will remain secretary, and Archbishop Protase Rugambwa, adjunct secretary.
These decisions curb speculation in Italian media as to possible shake-ups in both departments.
In addition to the confirmations, Pope Francis made a series of major appointments. The lifetime Vatican diplomat and Archbishop Beniamino Stella is the new prefect of the Congregation for Clergy, taking the place of fellow-Italian Cardinal Mauro Piacenza.
Archbishop Celso Mora Iruzubieta has been confirmed as secretary of the same department while Bishop Jorge Carol Patron Wong has been named its secretary for seminaries.
The outgoing Cardinal Piacenza will go on to replace the retiring Cardinal Manuel Monteiro de Castro as the Penitentiary Major of the Apostolic Penitentiary.
Titular Archbishop Lorenzo Baldisseri, formerly secretary of the Congregation for Bishops, has been appointed secretary general of the Synod of Bishops.
In a further development, Pope Francis created a position for Archbishop Joseph Augustine "Gus" di Noia. He now joins the leadership of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith as its adjunct secretary.
The American prelate has years of experience working in the Roman Curia. He began serving as under-secretary for the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith in 2002 and was appointed secretary for the Congregation for Divine Worship in 2009. At the same time, he was consecrated as the Titular Archbishop of Oregon City.
In 2012, Pope Benedict XVI named him vice president of the Ecclesia Dei Pontifical Commission, which has led efforts to bring the traditionalist Society of St. Pius X back into the Catholic Church.
Di Noia was born in New York and joined the Dominicans of the Eastern Province of St. Joseph where he was ordained in 1970. He is a respected theologian who was asked to serve on the International Theological Commission, a group tasked with helping the Holy See examine doctrinal questions, from 1997-2002.
Pope Francis' appointments also include Italian Archbishop Giuseppe Sciacca, adjunct secretary of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, as a consultor to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
And Msgr. Giampier Gloder becomes president of the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy and given special responsibilities in the Secretary of State. He will be given the title of Archbishop.
Titular Archbishop Nikola Eterovic, formerly secretary general of the Synod of Bishops, has been named apostolic nuncio to Germany.
The curial changes come just weeks before Pope Francis will meet with a group of eight Cardinals from Oct. 1-3 to advise him on possible changes to the governing structures of the Church.