BERLIN — Pope Francis has appointed the longtime secretary of the late Pope Benedict XVI, who was sent back to his native Germany without a new assignment last year after he fell out with the current pontiff, as the Vatican's diplomatic representative to the Baltic states.

The Vatican announced in its daily bulletin Monday that Archbishop Georg Gänswein was named as the papal nuncio to Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia.

Francis removed Gänswein from his Vatican job last year and ordered him to return to his diocese of origin, Freiburg in southwestern Germany. The Freiburg archdiocese said last summer that he wouldn't be given a permanent job there, but would lead regular services at the city's cathedral and could take on ''individual assignments'' such as confirmations.

His removal from the Vatican followed a very public falling-out that culminated with Gänswein's tell-all memoir, which was highly critical of Francis.

Speculation about Gänswein's future swirled following Benedict's death at the end of 2022, and deepened a week later with the publication of the archbishop's memoir, ''Nothing But the Truth: My Life Beside Pope Benedict XVI.''

In the book, Gänswein recounted his life serving Benedict but also acting as prefect of the papal household under Francis. He revealed palace intrigues, settled old scores and cast Francis in a deeply unfavorable light, puncturing the carefully curated notion that the cohabitation of two popes, one active and one retired, had been a happy one.

Gänswein stopped actively working as prefect of the papal household in 2020 following the publication of a previous book that got him in trouble with Francis, though he officially remained in the job until last year.

Gänswein, 67, now becomes the Vatican's envoy to three countries that Francis visited in 2018.