Pope Francis has appointed a friar of the Custody of the Holy Land as apostolic vicar of Alep of the Latins in Syria. Father Georges Abou Khazen O.F.M. will be raised to the dignity of bishop and replaces Msgr. Giuseppe Nazzaro who has stepped down on grounds of age.
(Rome/e.p.) - Pope Francis has appointed a friar of the Custody of the Holy Land as apostolic vicar of Alep of the Latins in Syria.
Father Georges Abou Khazen O.F.M. will be raised to the dignity of bishop and replaces Msgr. Giuseppe Nazzaro who has stepped down on grounds of age.
Born in Ain Zebdeh in the eparchy of Saida of the Maronites of Lebanon in 1947, Abou Khazen took his perpetual vows in the Order of the Friars Minor in 1972. He completed his studies at the Universirt of Kaslik in Lebanon and was ordained on 28th June 1973.
He has served as parish priest in Bethlehem and in Jerusalem, and is guardian and parish priest of St. Francis in Aleppo and vicar general for the north of Syria. He is currently apostolic administrator “sede vacante et ad nutum Sanctae Sedis” of the vicariate of Alep of the Latins.
Bishop-elect Georges is a familiar face to the faithful in the Holy Land because, after a period spent as a parochial vicar in Alexandria, Egypt , he worked in Jerusalem at the parish of St. Saviour and became its parish priest in 1975.
From 1983 to 1998 he was also a priest in Bethlehem, after which he returned to Jerusalem where he ministered until 2004. That year he was transferred to Syria where he has been guardian and parish priest of St. Francis in Aleppo and vicar general for Latin rite Catholics in the north of Syria.
Bishop-elect Georges has served in various capacities in different diocesan and custodial commissions, both in Jerusalem and in Syria, and has been an adviser to the Custos. He speaks Arabic, Italian and French.
In an interview in August 2012, Father Georges described the violence his parish was having to face and stressed that as Christians “we cannot use violence against others who use violence – it is not the Christian way.”
He also added that ecumenism was strong among Aleppo Christians and that all denominations came together once a month to pray together. “Now we look for unity much more,” he said. “All of this helps, also because the people feel Christian and that’s enough, without other explanations.”
The account of Tommaso Saltini, director of the NGO ATS - Pro Terra Sancta, on his return from Syria. Some of the ways the funds allocated by the Custody, including thanks to the generosity of readers, are used.
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