.- Pope Benedict XVI appointed Argentinean Archbishop Leonardo Sandri as new Prefect of the Congregation for Oriental Churches, and appointed Archbishop Fernando Filoni, until now Apostolic Nuncio in the Philippines, in his place.
Pope Benedict made both appointments public on Saturday morning, during a visit to the Congregation, where he gave special thanks to Cardinal Ignace Moussa I Daoud, the 77-year-old retiring Prefect.
"I am conscious that the Holy Father is entrusting me with the treasure of the liturgical prayer, the spiritual tradition, the monastic life, the life of so many saints, the teachings of the Fathers and of the Doctors of the Eastern Church," Archbishop Sandri said in a statement.
"I renew my absolute fidelity to the requests and directives of Peter's Successor and vicar of Christ," he also said.
Archbishop Sandri was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on November 18, 1943. He graduated in Theology from the Catholic University of Argentina and has a doctorate in Cannon Law from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome.
He joined the Vatican's Diplomatic service in 1974, working at the Nunciature in Madagascar until 1977, and then from 1977 to 1989 as the Secretary of State. From 1989 to 1991 he was the Counselor to the Apostolic Nunciature in the United States and the Organization of American States.
In 1997 he was ordained as an Archbishop and appointed Apostolic Nuncio to Venezuela. In March 2000, he was appointed Apostolic Nuncio in Mexico, and in September that same year, was called to become the "Sostituto," the second highest ranking official for the Church's internal affairs.
As a head of Vatican Congregation, it is expected that Archbishop Sandri will be created a Cardinal at the next Consistory.
The new "Sostituto" is Italian Archbishop Fernando Filoni, born in Manduria (Southern Italy), on April 15 1946. He was ordained a priest on July 3 1970 and joined the Vatican diplomatic service in 1981, working at the nunciatures of Sri Lanka, Iran, Brazil and the Philippines.
In 2001 was ordained as an Archbishop and appointed as the Apostolic Nuncio in Jordan and Iraq. In February 2006 he was appointed Nuncio in the Philippines.
According to Vatican sources, the new appointments precede a set of several changes in the Roman Curia, indicating that Benedictâs reorganization of the Curia is not yet complete.