VATICAN CITY (AP) —
Pope Francis on Monday named an American-born missionary in Peru, Bishop Robert Francis Prevost, to take over the Vatican’s powerful bishops’ office from the retiring Canadian who has recently been accused of sexual misconduct.
Prevost, a Chicago native and former superior of his Augustinian order who began ministering in Peru in the 1980s, takes over the important Holy See office that helps vet bishop nominations around the globe and also investigates allegations of abuse or negligence against bishops.
The Dicastery for Bishops’ outgoing head, Cardinal Marc Ouellet, was one of the few Vatican prefects whom Francis kept on for years from the papacy of Pope Benedict XVI in a clear sign of trust. At 78, Ouellet is three years past the normal retirement age for bishops and his successor has been the subject of rumors for months.
Lately, Ouellet has been embroiled in allegations of misconduct stemming from his time as archbishop of Quebec - allegations he strongly denied. After the Vatican shelved the case against him last year on insufficient grounds to continue, Ouellet sued his accuser in civil court in Canada for alleged defamation.
Prevost, 67, was head of the Augustinians from 2001-2013, based in Rome. He also served as head of the Chicago province of the order and in 2014 was named apostolic administrator and then bishop of Chiclayo, in northern Peru in a region where the Chicago Augustinians have long had a presence.
Like Ouellet, Prevost will also head the Vatican's Pontifical Commission for Latin America.