Vatican City: Pope Benedict XVI has appointed an Indian cardinal and seasoned Vatican diplomat to direct the church's worldwide missionary work, the Vatican said on Saturday.
Cardinal Ivan Dias, Archbishop of Mumbai, replaces Italian Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe as Prefect of the Congregation of Evangelization of Peoples.
Dias, 70, was ordained in Mumbai in 1958 and graduated with a degree in canon law from the Pontifical Lateran University in Rome.
A linguist who speaks fluent Hindi, English, Italian, French and Spanish, Dias entered the Holy See's diplomatic service in 1964 and spent more than 30 years as a Vatican envoy.
He was posted to countries including Indonesia, Madagascar, Ghana, South Korea, the Comoros Islands, Ghana, Togo and Albania before returning to India as Archbishop of Mumbai in 1996. The late Pope John Paul II elevated him to cardinal in 2001.
Dias was a papal candidate in last year's elections that saw Benedict elected successor to Pope John Paul II. His appointment follows recent changes to some of the top positions in the Curia, the central administration of the church.
Sepe, who had been prefect of the congregation since 2001, was named Archbishop of Naples.