26 February 2013

Congo-Kinshasa: Pope Erects New Diocese in the Republic of Congo

Vatican City — Pope Benedict XVI has established the new Diocese of Gamboma, located in the Republic of Congo. Previously, the area comprising the new diocese belonged to the Diocese of Owando, which has now been divided. The Gamboma diocese will now be a suffragen, or auxiliary diocese, to the Archdiocese of Brazzaville.

The Diocese of Gamboma is comprised of the civil region of Plateaux, and is bordered to the north of the Diocese of Ouesso. Roughly 110,000 Catholics live in the area out of a population of 193,000. The parish of St Pius X will serve as the Cathedral Church of the new diocese and will have St Catherine of Siena as its patron saint.

The Holy Father also named Fr Urbain Ngassongo as the first Bishop of Gamboma. Fr Ngassongo, a priest from Owando, served as secretary of the Episcopal Conference of Congo. Born in Kinshasa, Bishop-elect Ngassongo studied at the French Pontifical College in Rome and received his doctorate in Spiritual Theology at the Gregorian Pontifical University.

Prior to serving as Secretary of the Congolese Bishops Conference, Bishop-elect Ngassongo served as a professor and spiritual director of the major seminary in Brazzaville. He also served as parochial vicar in various parishes, both in Owando and in Potenza, Italy.

Meanwhile Pope Benedict XVI has appointed Italian-born Father Ilario Antoniazzi as the new Archbishop of Tunis. Fr Antoniazzi has been serving as parish priest of Rameh and Director-General of the Latin Patriarchate Schools in Israel. He was born on the April 23, 1948 in the town of Rai in the Diocese of Vittorio Veneto in Treviso northern Italy. He was ordained a priest in Jerusalem on the June 24, 1972 and incardinated in the Diocese of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem.

Archbishop-elect Antoniazzi succeeds Archbishop Maroun Lahham, who was appointed Auxiliary Bishop and Patriarchal Vicar for Jordan in January last year.

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