Pope Francis has chosen three Lebanese Catholic priests to lead some of the most important dioceses of the Eastern Catholic Churches, a move seen as “further proof of the care given to the clergy and faithful in this country” by Vatican watchers.
The Pope has given his approval to the appointment of Reverend Joseph Abdel-Jalil Chami as Archbishop of Hassake-Nisibi, Syria.
Father Elie Joseph Warde was appointed Bishop of the Syrian-Catholic Eparchy of Cairo and Patriarchal Vicar for Sudan and South Sudan, and Father Jules Boutros was assigned to the Syrian Patriarchal Curia of Antioch.
According to a bulletin published by the Vatican Press Office, all the new bishops were born in Lebanon, where they completed all their theological studies.
The Catholic Church in Lebanon is often considered the largest and most powerful in the Middle East, representing around half of the Christian population today.
“This clearly represents an additional sign of Pope Francis’ attention to the clergy and the faithful who live in Lebanon, an Arab country where the Catholic presence has been historically remarkable, and the cohabitation between different religions is fruitful,” Fr. . Giuseppe Ciutti, an Italian priest who spent time in Iraq, told media.
He added that the pontiff “has always expressed his closeness and appreciation for Lebanese Christians.”
The pope’s planned trip to Lebanon next month has been canceled because Francis, 85, was unable to walk due to a flare-up of discomfort in his right knee, as well as long-term sciatica, which causes agony in the legs.
The Lebanese government had announced the trip for June 12 and 12. The Vatican has never officially acknowledged the trip, although the pope has repeatedly mentioned it in recent interviews. It will now most likely take place in the fall.
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