Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Latin Patriarch Fouad Twal of Jerusalem and appointed Franciscan Father Pierbattista Pizzaballa, former “custos" of the Holy Land, as the apostolic administrator of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem.
The Franciscan will serve as apostolic administrator until the appointment of a new patriarch and he will be elevated to the dignity of archbishop, the Vatican said. His episcopal ordination will be in September.
The resignation and appointment were announced on June 24 by the Vatican.
Patriarch Twal, who has served as head of the Latin Patriarchate since 2008, stepped down for reasons of age. In October 2015, he turned 75 — the age at which bishops are required by canon law to turn in their resignations to the pope.
Archbishop-designate Pizzaballa served as “custos" of the Holy Land for 12 years. The “custos" is the provincial minister of the Franciscans in almost all of the Middle East, with jurisdiction over territory extending through Israel, the Palestinian territories, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Cyprus and Rhodes, and at their monastery in Cairo.
He will serve as apostolic administrator of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem until the appointment of a new patriarch and he will be elevated to the dignity of archbishop, the Vatican said. His episcopal ordination will be in September.
In a statement released shortly after the Vatican’s announcement, the Latin Patriarchate thanked Patriarch Twal and welcomed Father Pizzaballa “with best wishes in his new mission."
“The entire diocese joins in prayer for the intentions of the patriarch emeritus and the new apostolic administrator," the statement said.
The Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land welcomed the announcement of the appointment of Archbishop-designate Pizzaballa and expressed gratitude to Patriarch Twal for his service.
The assembly said its members “remember profoundly the great services that Fr Pizzaballa made during his service as custos of the Holy Land."
“In this occasion, we pray to the almighty for the intentions of the new apostolic administrator and Patriarch Fouad Twal in specific and for the Latin Patriarchate and Holy Land churches in general, asking the patronage of our mother Virgin Mary so we will continue our cooperation for the sake of all," the bishops’ statement said.
by Junno Arocho Esteves