Pope again names trusted prelate to top post, tapping private secretary as finance No. 2

VATICAN CITY – Pope Francis has once again made politics personal, tapping his own private secretary to be the No. 2 in the Vatican’s new economy secretariat.

Monsignor Alfred Xuereb had been the deputy private secretary to Pope Benedict XVI and stayed on to become Francis’ main aide when Benedict retired.

On Monday, the Vatican announced that Francis had named the Maltese Xuereb as the secretary-general of the Economy Secretariat headed by Australian Cardinal George Pell. The finance ministry was created last week in the first major overhaul of the Vatican’s outdated and inefficient bureaucracy in a quarter-century.

Previously, Francis has placed trusted friends in powerful positions at the scandal-plagued Vatican bank and in other key Vatican offices, and recently elevated some longtime colleagues from Latin America as cardinals.