Pope Francis has named the Vatican's former sex crimes prosecutor, Charles Scicluna, as archbishop of his native Malta.

The Vatican announcement Friday made clear that Scicluna would continue dealing with the abuse scandal, heading a Vatican committee to hear appeals of priests sanctioned for molesting minors.

Scicluna was named auxiliary bishop of Malta in 2012 after a decade in Rome prosecuting abuse cases. He effectively took over running the Malta archdiocese last year after the incumbent retired.

When he left Rome, Vatican watchers wondered if the tough line on abuse that he had championed would go soft, and if he was being punished for having done his job too well.

Francis has vowed "zero tolerance" for abusers, and Scicluna's promotion indicates the pope thinks highly of him.