In the first of a number of senior Vatican appointments expected this summer, Pope Benedict XVI has nominated American Archbishop Augustine Di Noia as vice president of the commission charged with helping to bring the Society of St. Pius X back into full communion with Rome.

The Vatican announced today that the 68 year-old Dominican archbishop will become vice president of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, and that his current position, as Secretary to the Congregation for Divine Worship, will be filled by Bishop Arthur Roche of Leeds, England. Bishop Roche will be raised to the rank of archbishop.

The Holy Father has also appointed a new president for the Pontifical Council for the Family: Bishop Vincenzo Paglia of Terni-Narni-Amelia, 67, will take over the role from Cardinal Ennio Antonelli, 75, and will be elevated to archbishop. Bishop Paglia, well known as one of the founders of the Sant’Egidio lay community, is also close to the cause of the assassinated Archbishop of San Salvador, Oscar Romero.

In other appointments, Pope Benedict has named Tanzanian Bishop Protase Rugambwa of Kigoma as the new adjunct secretary to the Congregation for the Evangelisation of the Peoples, replacing Archbishop Piergiuseppe Vacchelli, who is stepping down on grounds of age.

French Archbishop Jean-Louis Bruguès, hitherto secretary at the Congregation for Catholic Education, becomes the Holy Roman Church’s new archivist and librarian. His successor at the Congregation has not yet been named.

The Pope has also accepted the resignation on age grounds of Bishop Gianfranco Girotti as regent of the Apostolic Penitentiary, replacing him with Msgr. Krzysztof Józef Nykiel, an official at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Lastly, the Pope has accepted the resignation of Argentine Bishop Fernando Maria Bargallo of the diocese of Merlo Moreno, and replaced him with Bishop Alcides Jorge Pedro Casaretto as apostolic administrator. Bishop Bargallo, 57, was involved in a scandal last week over photographs showing him with a woman on a Mexican beach.

Archbishop Di Noia’s appointment is a logical next step for the New York-born Dominican. After serving three years working in the Vatican’s dicastery for the liturgy, he now moves to Ecclesia Dei which is under the authority of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the dicastery where the archbishop served as under-secretary from 2002-2009.  To explain the move in greater detail, and what it could mean for the ongoing SSPX-Rome talks, the Vatican has taken the unusual step of issuing an explanatory note.

But this means the chances of him becoming prefect of the Congregation are now over for the time being. Cardinal William Levada, the current prefect, is expected to leave that position next month and speculation continues over his possible successor.