By Odiwuor Opiyo
VATICAN, JANUARY 7, 2022 – (CISA) The Holy Father appointed, on December 27, Bishop Jean-Paul Vesco as the Archbishop of the Catholic Archdiocese of Alger after the resignation of Archbishop Emeritus Paul Desfarges from the canonical possession of the archdiocese.
The Archbishop-elect is the Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Oran since 2012.
“It is a charge and an honour which were really not in my horizon of thought until recently, but I receive them with confidence and with the joy of discovering each of the members of the Archdiocese that I know without knowing him, as people know each other who have seen each other, sometimes for a long time, but who have never lived together! I will not be long in coming to Algiers for a round trip, before my installation… “wrote Bishop Vesco in his address to the faithful in Algeria.
In his message to the faithful of Oran Diocese, he said, “Leaving the Diocese of Oran was not really something I envisaged, but I am sure that this change will bring new richness and fruitfulness. In any case, this is my wish on the eve of the new year.”
The 59-year-old Dominican Friar is a former practising lawyer who was ordained priest in 2001 after joining the novitiate of the Order of Friars Preachers (Dominicans) in 1995 and moved to Jerusalem shortly to attend Bible School. He later moved to Oran, Algeria to re-institute Dominican presence in the country after the assassination of Bishop Pierre Claverie six years before.
At the helm of the archdiocese, the Archbishop-elect will shepherd about 4,000 catholic faithful out of a total population of about 12 million people with the larger population being predominantly Muslim.
The Christian community in Algeria is discreet and the appointment of Msgr Vesco is significant; majorly to facilitate interreligious tolerance between the Muslims and the Christians while maintaining the cordial relations both religious groups enjoy.
Algeria has experienced dark days where the population was religiously averse, polarized and radicalized. During this period, many people lost their lives including Bishop Pierre Claverie who died in a car bomb.
The Dominican Prelate’s notable achievements include his contribution to the beatification of 19 Algerian martyrs in 2018 including Bishop Pierre Claverie and Tibhirine Monks.
The Archbishop-elect is set to be installed on February 11 on the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes.