Dublin-born Cardinal Kevin Farrell has been named by Pope Francis as the new 'Camerlengo', a high-ranking member of the clergy who runs the Vatican between the death or resignation of a pontiff and the election of a new one.
The 71-year-old was born in Drimnagh and became a cardinal in November 2016.
He was appointed as the Bishop of Dallas in 2007, where he served until he was appointed as the first prefect of the Dicastery for Laity, Family, and Life in August 2016.
This role put him in charge of planning the World Meeting of Families in Dublin in 2018.
He is the highest-ranking American in the Vatican, and takes over the role from French cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, who died in July.
The Camerlengo runs the ordinary affairs of the Vatican city-state during the period known as the “sede vacante” (empty seat).
He must confirm the death of the pope if the situation arises,
Cardinal Farrell was one of the bishops questioned last year when it accusations against Archbishop Theodore McCarrick emerged.
He denied having any knowledge of accusations of sexual abuse or harassment against McCarrick, under whom he had served as an auxiliary bishop and lived with for six years.