The Prefect of the Dicastery for the Eastern Churches presides over the episcopal ordination of Bishop Hanna Jallouf, OFM, whom Pope Francis has appointed as the new Apostolic Vicar of Aleppo of the Latins.
By Deborah Castellano Lubov
Bishop Hanna Jallouf, Apostolic Vicar of Aleppo of the Latins, was ordained Bishop for the Latin-rite Catholics in Aleppo on Sunday, according to the Vatican Dicastery for the Eastern Churches.
Cardinal-elect Claudio Gugerotti, Prefect of the aforementioned Dicastery, Cardinal Mario Zenari, Apostolic Nuncio in Syria, and Cardinal-elect Pierbattista Pizzaballa, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, traveled to Aleppo to preside over the episcopal consecration.
For the past 22 years, Bishop Jallouf was a parish priest of Kanye in Idlib province, still under the control of Islamic rebel forces, before being entrusted with the care of all Latin-rite Catholics in Syria.
The celebration welcomed the enthusiastic presence of his faithful from Knaye, the Latin community of Aleppo, and the participation of Bishops from various Eastern, Catholic, and Orthodox Churches.
Dramatic decline in Christians facing danger
In the Idlib area, Christians have been heavily oppressed and their lives are in danger.
This region, characterized by intense conflict, has witnessed a dramatic decline in the Christian population, plummeting from 10,000 to a mere 600. Priests have been forced to flee, leaving only the Latin-rite Franciscans to provide assistance.
Threatened several times, then-Father Jallouf was kidnapped by Al-Nusra militants in 2014, and held in prison. Regardless, he has never abandoned the communities entrusted to him.
Joyfully sustaining war-torn community
In an interview with Vatican News following his nomination as Apostolic Vicar in July, Bishop Jallouf discussed his new mission.
“The mission to which I dedicate myself joyfully is to sustain a war-torn community, still reeling from the destruction caused by the devastating earthquake in February.”
During that time, he called working toward peace a key priority, and reiterated the need to do all things to “glorify God” and “for the good of the Church.”
‘You never left your flock’
Cardinal-elect Gugerotti’s homily on Sunday recognized Bishop Jallouf’s faith, perseverance and closeness to his people.
“Dear Fr. Hanna it is for these people, for these concrete faces, that you are ordained bishop today. You have shown yourself to be a good father, tender, but also strong, if necessary. You did not leave your flock alone, but until today you wanted to stay with them, even when this put your life in danger.”
“It is for these people, for these concrete faces, that you are ordained bishop today. You have shown yourself to be a good father, tender, but also strong, if necessary. You did not leave your flock alone…”
A symbol for all Syrian people
“God has made you a symbol for all the Syrian people,” Cardinal-designate Gugerotti said.
The future Cardinal praised the Apostolic Vicar’s for dedicating his life to the men and women the Lord placed beside him, and urged him to keep in his mind how he had kept his eyes on the cross on the wall in the prison where he was held, noting, “It is the sign of your identity.”
“Best wishes, Fr. Hanna, best wishes dear Catholics of Syria. The Church is with you and with all your people,” the Vatican Prefect concluded, rejoicing, “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.”