Pope Benedict XVI has today made a series of personnel changes within the Roman Curia.

Although the changes concern officials not often in the public eye, their positions are nevertheless influential.

One of those promoted is Msgr. Peter Brian Wells, a priest from Tulsa, Okla. He becomes assessor for general affairs of the Secretariat of State, a key position dealing with the Holy See’s relations with states.

Until now, Msgr. Wells has headed the English-language section at the Vatican Secretariat of State, with special responsibility for dealing with Holy See relations with the United States. He was one of just two others who were present at President Barack Obama’s private audience with the Holy Father last week and also accompanied the Pope on his trip to the United States last year.

He replaces Msgr. Gabriele Giordano Caccia, seen as a rising star in the Vatican’s diplomatic corps who has been appointed apostolic nuncio to Lebanon and raised to the dignity of archbishop.

Also another important appointment today involved the running of Vatican City, with Archbishop Renato Boccardo, secretary general of the Governorate of Vatican City State, being appointed Archbishop of Spoleto-Norcia. He has been replaced by Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, titular nuncio and apostolic delegate to date for the Pontifical Representations.

There has been speculation among Italian Vaticanistas that, together with the retirement of Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos, former president of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, and the secretary of that commission, Msgr. Camille Perl, Benedict has been restructuring the Curia after the controversy of the handling of the Bishop Williamson affair.

However, while that may be the case, the motives behind these changes cannot be confirmed.