Pope Francis appointed on Saturday Archbishop Pietro Parolin as the Vatican's new secretary of state.
Parolin, 58, was the Vatican's diplomatic representative in Venezuela and previously worked in Nigeria and Mexico, as well as within the Holy See. He has also worked on relations with Vietnam and China, and served as the Vatican's deputy foreign minister from 2002 to 2009.
His new role as head of the government makes him the most important figure in the Vatican after the pope.
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"I feel very strongly the grace of this call, which is yet another and the latest of God's surprises in my life," Parolin said in a statement quoted by Vatican Radio.
"Above all, I feel the full weight of the responsibility placed upon me: this call entrusts to me a difficult and challenging mission, before which my powers are weak and my abilities poor."
Parolin will assume his new position on Oct. 15. He will be taking over from Italian Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, who has held the post since 2006, and is expected to be a better fit for the job, with his reputation as a good administrator and linguist.
Bertone was one of Pope Benedict XVI's few advisers privy to be a part of his inner circle. A scandal at the end of Benedict's years as pope, which involved the theft of papal documents and revelations of alleged corruption, was thought to have been aimed at discrediting Bertone.