VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Pope Benedict named the 59-year-old archbishop of Milwaukee as the next archbishop of New York, the highest profile post in the U.S. Catholic Church, the Vatican said on Monday.

Timothy Dolan, widely seen as an affable and media-friendly priest, succeeds 76-year-old Cardinal Edward Egan, who is retiring after nearly nine years in the job.

Well known in Vatican circles, the St. Louis native was long considered a front-runner for Egan's post.

He is a former rector of the Pontifical North American College in Rome, an elite seminary which counts prominent U.S. Church leaders, including Egan, among its alumni.

Dolan was named archbishop of Milwaukee in 2002 by Pope John Paul II.

He is expected to offer a different leadership style than Egan, who was sometimes criticized for being too stern and distant from the clergy.

Dolan would clearly be the opposite of all that ... , said one U.S. priest, familiar with Dolan from his years in Rome.

I think he'll be very good for New York. He is very much a bridge builder. He's an extrovert and energetic.

Pope John Paul II appointed Egan, a native of Oak Park, Illinois, archbishop of New York in May, 2000.

(Writing by Phil Stewart)