Carlson, 64, is the 10th man to head the church in St. Louis since 1827, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported Tuesday. He is a trained canon lawyer who succeeds another lawyer, Archbishop Raymond Burke, who was appointed in June to head the Vatican Supreme Court.
A native of Minneapolis, Carlson was ordained as a priest in 1970. He became an auxiliary bishop in 1984 in Minneapolis and went on to serve as bishop of Sioux Falls, S.D., in 1994 and Saginaw in 2005.
"He is a very energetic, articulate, warm and gifted pastor and administrator," said Robert Hermann, the interim bishop in St. Louis. "I am most deeply impressed with his energy and zeal for evangelization. I eagerly look forward to working with and for him."
In 2003, Carlson became involved in a dispute with Sen. Tom Daschle, D-S.D., then the minority leader, when the Weekly Standard reported the bishop asked Daschle to stop referring to himself as a Catholic because of his support of abortion rights.
On the Senate floor, Daschle described Carlson as speaking "in a way more involved with the radical right than with thoughtful religious leadership."