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Vatican prelate reassigned; more changes to follow? February 16, 2006

Archbishop Michael Fitzgerald, the president of the Pontifical Council for Inter-Religious Dialogue, has been named as apostolic nuncio to Egypt. He will also serve as the Vatican's representative to the Arab League.

Archbishop Fitzgerald is the first head of a major Roman dicastery to be reassigned by Pope Benedict. The Vatican announcement of Archbishop Fitzgerald's new assignment, release February 15, did not name a successor. With rumors circulating in Rome about shifts and consolidation within the Roman Curia, his departure may be a signal that the Pontifical Council for Inter-Religious Dialogue will be eliminated, with its duties assigned to other Vatican offices.

Archbishop Fitzgerald will replace Archbishop Dino Marco Brogi, who has been apostolic nuncio in Egypt and delegate to the Arab League for the past 4 years. The two roles fit together naturally, since the Arab League headquarters are located in Cairo. A native of Birmingham, England, Archbishop Fitzgerald joined the White Fathers and was ordained a missionary priest in 1961. After studies in Rome and London he taught at the Pontifical Institute for Arabic and Islamic studies, serving as director of that institute from 1972 to 1978. He then served in the Archdiocese of Khartoum, Sudan, before being named secretary of what was then called the Secretariat for Non-Christians-- now known as the Pontifical Council for Inter-Religious Dialogue-- in 1987. He was consecrated a bishop in 1992, and raised to the rank of archbishop in 2002 when he became president of the Pontifical Council.

After his election last April, Pope Benedict confirmed all of the leaders of the Roman Curia in the positions they had held under Pope John Paul II. Aside from naming Archbishop William Levada as his own replacement at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the only significant change the Pontiff had made in the leadership of the Curia, prior to today's announcement, was the replacement of Archbishop Domenico Sorrentino as secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship.

Archbishop Sorrentino was named to head the Assisi diocese; his place at the Congregation for Divine Worship was taken by Archbishop Albert Malcolm Ranjith Patabendige Don, a Sri Lankan prelate whose views on liturgical matters are closer to those of the Pontiff.