Bishop Roche, 62, stepped down as chairman of the International Commission on English in the Liturgy earlier this year after a decade in the role. During that time he had overseen the drafting of the new English translation of the Roman Missal.
As secretary he will be the Vatican’s number two on liturgy, serving under Cardinal Antonio Cañizares Llovera, who has been nicknamed “Little Ratzinger”.
Bishop Roche said: “I have to confess that I was very surprised and shocked by the news of this appointment. I am sorry to be leaving the Diocese of Leeds with its priests and people whom I have loved very much. I shall miss them enormously. I am, however, aware and deeply humbled by the confidence Pope Benedict XVI shows in me in entrusting me with this responsibility. I shall do my best to fulfil the task that lies ahead.”
Archbishop Vincent Nichols, president of the bishops’ conference of England and Wales, said: “It is a great honour for England and Wales that one of our bishops has been given this responsibility in service of the Apostolic See. Bishop Arthur has our full support and prayers as he undertakes this role. We will miss him very much.”