VATICAN CITY (REUTERS) - Pope Francis on Saturday named French Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran as the new camerlengo, or chamberlain, the cardinal who runs the Vatican after the death or resignation of a pontiff.
Tauran, 71, succeeds Italian Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, who turned 80 this month, the age when cardinals can no longer enter a conclave to elect a pope.
Whether the papacy is left vacant by death or resignation, the camerlengo runs the ordinary affairs of the Vatican city-state until a new pope is elected in a secret conclave.
He cannot make any major decisions and cannot change Church teachings during the interim period, known as the "sede vacante", or vacant seat.
In the case of a papal death, the camerlengo is the person who officially confirms it, traditionally by tapping the pontiff's head three times with a silver hammer and calling out his name.
It was Tauran, as a senior cardinal deacon, who said the words "Habemus Papam" (We have a pope) from the central balcony of St. Peter's Basilica on the night of Francis' election on March 13, 2013 and then announced the name of the new pope to the world.