Vatican City, Nov 8, 2014 / 08:08 am
After six years serving as Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, Cardinal Raymond Burke has been appointed as Patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta.
Cardinal Burke, 66, confirmed publicly in October that Pope Francis informed him of the move. The American prelate was appointed as chief justice of the Catholic Church's highest court in 2008 by Benedict XVI.
Previously, he headed the Archdiocese of St. Louis, Mo. and the Diocese of La Crosse, Wis.
The Order of Malta is a lay religious order dedicated to offering humanitarian assistance and medical and social services to the needy. It was founded in the 11th century to care for pilgrims to the Holy Land, today it has more than 13,500 members worldwide. They are supported by tens of thousands of volunteers.
As patron of the Order, Cardinal Burke will be tasked with caring for their spiritual interests.
The appointment to the highly honorific role is uncommon for a cardinal so far from the retirement age of 75. He will be tasked with significantly fewer responsibilities.
The development will draw speculation from all sides but no official reason was given with the announcement from the Holy See Press Office. During his short pontificate, Pope Francis has moved quickly in reshaping the curia to form the leadership that addresses his priorities.
To take the place of Cardinal Burke, Archbishop Dominique Mamberti has been appointed by the Holy Father as new Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura.
The French Moroccan archbishop has until now been serving as Secretary for Relations with States. British Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, until now the Apostolic Nuncio to Australia, has been appointed in place of Archbishop Mamberti as Secretary for Relations with States.
Pope Francis has also appointed Fr. Chad Zielinski to be bishop of Fairbanks, Alaska, a military chaplain for the nearby Eielson Air Force Base.
Born 1964 in the US State of Michigan, Fr. Zielinski was ordained for the diocese of Gaylord in 1996. Since 2002, he has served as an Air Force chaplain, having been appointed to Eielson military base in 2012.