Two years in the making, a new archbishop for Luxembourg

For a while now, I’ve seen people arrive on my blog via search terms like ‘new archbishop Luxembourg’. Perhaps they knew things I didn’t (not a very radical notion), because just today, the Vatican announced just that, a new archbishop for Luxembourg.

The archbishop emeritus, Msgr. Fernand Franck, was , at 77, already well past the retirement age, but for reasons we can only guess at, it took this long for a successor to be named. And that successor is Jesuit Fr. Jean-Claude Hollerich, pictured to the left with Msgr. Franck. Archbishop elect Hollerich is 52, and a priest since 1990. His biography mentions his education in Rome, Belgium, Germany and Japan, and indicates that Msgr. Hollerich is something of a language scholar, having extensively studied both Japanese and German. His list of publications, varying from writings about the origins of school grammars to European grammar in Asia, and with side excursions to the rise of national awareness of Luxembourg and the history of French Jesuits in Siam. Much of his experience, it would seem, he gained while working in the Archdiocese of Tokyo and as vice rector of the Sophia University there.

The archdiocese that Msgr. Hollerich will soon call his responsibility tends to be too easily forgotten. It wasn’t until 1840, one year after Luxembourg’s independence as a grand duchy was reaffirmed by the First Treaty of London, that it was split off from the Diocese of Namur as a separate apostolic vicariate. In 1870 it was promoted to a diocese, and only in 1988 was it elevated to the status of archdiocese. As the only diocese in Luxembourg, it’s archbishop is not a member of a bishops’ conference, although it does share a papal nuncio with Belgium.

There are an estimated 390,000 Catholics out of a total population of 511,000, served by some 250 priests and 550 religious.

Archbishop elect Hollerich will be consecrated to bishop and installed as Luxembourg’s third archbishop on 16 October. at the cathedral of Our Lady in the city of Luxembourg.

Archbishop Fisichella calls Europe’s main archbishops to Rome

Archbishop Salvatore "Rino" Fisichella

In what seems to be an attempt to establish local centres of evangelisation in those areas most affected by secularisation, Archbishop Rino Fischella of the Pontifical Council for New Evangelisation has met with the archbishops of some of the most important European archdioceses. Specifically, they came from archdioceses who themselves “have put into play new evangelization initiatives in European countries where the Catholic faith is going through a season of deep crisis”, the Vatican Insider reports.

Meeting with Archbishop Fisichella and with one another to exchange ideas, plans and experiences, were Péter Cardinal Erdő (Esztergom-Budapest), Archbishop Diarmuid Martin (Dublin), Joachim Cardinal Meisner (Cologne), José Cardinal Policarpo (Lisbon), Archbishop André-Joseph Léonard (Brussels), Archbishop Patrick Kelly (Liverpool), Christoph Cardinal Schönborn (Vienna), Kazimierz Cardinal Nycz (Warsaw), Archbishop Cesare Nosiglia (Turin), Lluís Cardinal Martínez Sistach (Barcelona) and André Cardinal Vingt-Trois (Paris).

A select company with some striking gaps; there are major European dioceses which are not represented. It may be concluded that these have yet to implement plans and projects for new evangelisation, but perhaps this meeting can be a starting point for them. If the Pontifical Council can collect the plans that exist and use them to take further steps, perhaps on a larger European scale, it may be able to learn from the experiences of those ‘on the ground’, so to speak. A good approach, it seems, which does not disregard what developments have already been made.

Photo credit: REUTERS/Alessandro Bianch