The Catholic Church in Syria is celebrating: for the first time one of its “children” has become the bishop of Catholics of the Latin rite in the country. On Sunday 17 September, fra Hanna Jallouf, a Franciscan of the Custody of the Holy Land, was ordained bishop and took up the appointment of Apostolic Vicar of Aleppo of the Latins. This figure is similar to that of a diocesan bishop, but governs a part of God’s people in an area which, due to particular circumstances, has not yet been established as a diocese (cf can. 371 §1) The Mass of episcopal ordination was celebrated in the Latin parish church of St Francis in Aleppo.
Mons. Claudio Gugerotti (soon to be a cardinal), prefect of the y for the Oriental Churches, presided over the celebration. “Dear Father Hanna, it is for this people, for these real faces, that today you are ordained bishop,” he said in his homily. “You have shown that you are a good father. And you have never left your flock alone, but until today you wanted to stay with them, even then this put your life in danger. God has made you a symbol for the whole of the Syrian people. It is really possible to spend your life for the men and women that the Lord puts next to us.”
Alongside Mons. Gugerotti, the new bishop was also consecrated with him by Cardinal Mario Zenari, the apostolic nuncio in Syria and His Beatitude Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Patriarch of Jerusalem of the Latins, who is also to be made a cardinal at the next Consistory. Fra Hanna has a special relationship with the Patriarch who in his term as Custos of the Holy Land (2004-2016) was his direct superior. The present Custos of the Holy Land, fra Francesco Patton, and the Vicar, fra Ibrahim Faltas, the apostolic vicar of Beirut, the Franciscan Cesar Essayan were also present at the celebration, as well as the Franciscan community present in Syria.
“The Church is with you and with all your people,” said Mons. Gugerotti. “Today, this house of prayer is the centre of the world, where God performs his miracle of love and offers you a hope that does not disappoint.”
You can find our recent interview with fra Hanna HERE.