Even so, however, this first round is a keen exercise in continuity.
At Roman Noon today, the pontiff named Bishop Michael Jackels of Wichita as archbishop of Dubuque.
A CDF aide to the future Pope Benedict from 1997-2005, the Kansas prelate – who turns 59 on Saturday – succeeds Archbishop Jerome Hanus OSB, 72, at the helm of the church in Iowa, a bastion of tradition in the historic outpost that's home to the famous "Field of Dreams."
Following a year's worth of reports indicating that consultations for his successor were underway, in a statement released this morning, Hanus said that "my health has declined in recent years.
"As a result," the onetime abbot of Conception revealed, "some time ago I submitted my resignation as archbishop to the proper authorities."
One of John Paul II's final appointees to the Stateside bench, such was the archbishop-elect's comfort with his longtime boss that, when Jackels stepped up to greet Benedict during the annual orientation for new bishops in September 2005, the now Pope-emeritus is said to have exclaimed "Look at you!" at the sight.
Not having seen Joseph Ratzinger since his election, the story goes that the junior prelate shot right back at Benedict, responding "Look at YOU!"
At the same time, Francis tapped Msgr John Folda, 51 – a considerable talent who's served as rector of Lincoln's St Gregory the Great Seminary almost since its opening in 1998 – as bishop of Fargo, succeeding Archbishop Samuel Aquila, who was transferred home to Denver last May.