Vatican City — Pope Francis has moved quickly to fill the senior Vatican leadership post left open three weeks ago by the forced resignation of Italian Cardinal Angelo Becciu, naming the secretary of his advisory Council of Cardinals as the new prefect for the Catholic Church’s sainthood office.

The appointment of Marcello Semeraro, announced Oct. 15, appears to indicate the pontiff wanted a trusted hand to fill the place of Becciu, who has been the subject of an ever more fantastical series of allegations of financial impropriety in recent weeks in Italian media.

Semeraro, from Puglia, the region on the heel of Italy’s boot, has been serving for more than fifteen years as the head of the diocese of Albano, just to the southeast of Rome. 

As the secretary for the Council of Cardinals, the bishop has also been taking part in the group’s meetings since 2013 and has played an extensive role in helping draft the new apostolic constitution that is expected to substantially reorganize the Vatican’s various offices.

Becciu resigned his post as the head of the sainthood office Sept. 24, following an apparently tense meeting that day with Francis. The Vatican has not yet given any explanation for the dismissal, which it also said included a renunciation by Becciu “of the rights connected to the cardinalate.”  

Becciu began his role at the sainthood office in 2018. He had previously served seven years as one of the highest…

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