Erstwhile host of the Pope appointed as bishop in Freiburg

gerberIn the year that two of its current three bishops (the ordinary and of two auxiliaries) will turn 75 and are thus obliged to tender their resignation, the Archdiocese of Freiburg im Breisgau in southwestern Germany sees the groundwork being laid for the future of its curia, with the appointment of Msgr. Michael Gerber as auxiliary bishop.

At 43, Bishop-elect Gerber is part of the Church’s youngest generation of bishops: those born in 1970 or later. Another member of that group is his fellow countryman Bishop Florian Wörner, auxiliary of Augsburg, who was consecrated in July of last year.

Until today, Bishop-elect Gerber was the president of the Collegium Borromaeum, the archdiocesan seminary. During that time he was the host of Pope Benedict XVI, who stayed at the Collegium during his visit to Germany in September of 2011.

“Mit dir im Bund” (Latin: tecum in foedere) will be the bishop’s motto, which is an indication of his theological thought and pastoral approach, as the official announcement explains:

“In the Old and New Testament, “Bund” refers to the basic relationship of God with His people. “Mit dir” implies the answer that people have given to this call of God. “Many people feel that the task that we are faced with is actually overwhelming. This experience is also true for a bishop. The trust in God gives us the strength to taker the next step,” Michael Gerber explains about his motto.

Bishop-elect Michael Gerber is a Doctor in Theology and has been involved with the diocesan seminary since 2001. As bishop he will retain his function as president, at least for the time until a successor has been found. Whether he will succeed retired Auxiliary Bishop Paul Wehrle as episcopal vicar for higher education remains to be seen.

The consecration is scheduled for 8 September at Freiburg’s Cathedral of Our Lady. Archbishop Zollitsch will undoubtedly be the main consecrator, and Auxiliary Bishops Rainer Klug and Bernd Uhl will most likely serve as co-consecrators. Archbishop Zollitsch and Bishop Klug will reach the retirement age of 75 in August and December respectively, so the Archdiocese of Freiburg im Breisgau can expect its share of episcopal appointments, consecrations, and installations in the near future.

Photo credit: Robert Eberle

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.