VATICAN CITY, JUNE 27, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI named Archbishop Raymond Burke of St. Louis as the new prefect of the Apostolic Signature, the Church's supreme court.
He succeeds Cardinal Agostino Vallini, 68, who was appointed today as the Pope's vicar for the Diocese of Rome upon the retirement of Cardinal Camillo Ruini.
The Apostolic Signature adjudicates, among other things, complaints of nullity and petitions for total reinstatement against sentences of the Roman Rota.
It also adjudicates administrative controversies referred to it by the pope or by dicasteries of the Roman Curia, as well as conflicts of competence between these dicasteries.
Archbishop Burke, who turns 60 on Monday, is a leading authority on canon law.
In comments posted today on the Web site of the Archdiocese of St. Louis, the prelate he was "deeply humbled by the trust which His Holiness has placed in me, and, in priestly obedience, I have pledged to serve our Holy Father to the best of my abilities."
The archbishop said he was sad to leave the Archdiocese of St. Louis, which he said it was "an honor and gift" to serve, and which "will always have a treasured place in my heart."
"In a particular way," he continued, "I am saddened to leave my fellow priests, whom I have so much grown to esteem and love. Often, I have spoken about the remarkable unity and loyalty of our presbyterate.
"For me, it has been a special grace to work with them in the service of God's flock in the archdiocese. I thank them for the priestly fraternity which they have always shown me, and for the generous obedience with which they have responded to my pastoral care and governance of our beloved archdiocese."
Raymond Burke was born in Richland Center, Wisconsin, and ordained to the priesthood in 1975 by Pope Paul VI.
He studied canon law at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. In 1989 he became the first American to hold the position of Defender of the Bond of the Apostolic Signature.
He was appointed bishop of Lacrosse, Wisconsin, in 1994, and then archbishop of St. Louis in 2003.