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December 1, 2014

The appointment of English Archbishop Paul Gallagher to the Vatican's equivalent of a foreign minister has been heralded as part of the rise of English-speaking bishops in key Roman positions. Gallagher's appointment comes shortly after Australian Cardinal George Pell was put in charge of the Holy See's finances.

However, it was not long ago that two Americans held top Vatican posts – Cardinal William Levada as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and Cardinal Raymond Burke as head of the Church's supreme court. Levada retired and Burke was shifted to a lesser role as patron of the Knights of Malta.

Gallagher's assignment as foreign minister – a position usually held by an Italian – did cut new ground. But it is too much to say that English-speakers are suddenly rising to prominence.