Pope Francis Accepts Retirement of Congo’s Owando Archbishop, Appoints Administrator

Archbishop emeritus Victor Abagna Mossa (right) of the Catholic Archdiocese of Owando and the new Apostolic Administrator, Bishop Gélase Armel Kema. Credit: Owando Archdiocese

Pope Francis has accepted the retirement of Archbishop Victor Abagna Mossa of the Catholic Archdiocese of Owando in the Republic of Congo (Congo Brazzaville) and appointed an Apostolic Administrator.

In the latest administrative changes published Sunday, August 20 by the Holy See Press Office, the Holy Father appointed Bishop Gélase Armel Kema of the country’s Ouesso Diocese as the Apostolic Administrator of the Congolese Metropolitan See.

In a statement issued August 20, the Apostolic Nuncio in Congo Brazzaville recognizes the “precious service that Archbishop Abagna has accomplished in the service of the Church in Congo.”

Aged 77, Archbishop Abagna started his Episcopal Ministry in March 2011 as Bishop of Owando Diocese; the Congolese Catholic Archbishop was appointed the first Archbishop of Owando following its elevation to a Metropolitan See on 30 May 2020.

In his August 20 statement, the representative of the Holy Father in Congo Brazzaville, Archbishop Javier Herrera Corona, reaches out to the people of God in the Congolese Archdiocese for a smooth transition.


“We hope that the Priests, Religious Men and Women, as well as all the Catholic faithful of the Archdiocese will welcome the new Apostolic Administrator and collaborate in the best possible way to pursue the renewal of an increasingly missionary and synodal Church,” Archbishop Herrera who also represents the Holy Father in Gabon says.

Bishop Kema who was appointed Local Ordinary of Ouesso Diocese in December 2021 was born in October 1972.

He was ordained a Priest in August 1999 after completing his philosophy and theology studies at the Theological Institute of Montreal in Quebec, Canada.

The alumnus of the Rome-based Pontifical Urbaniana University where he obtained his Licentiate and Doctorate in Canon Law also taught Canon Law at Cardinal Emile Biayenda Inter-Diocesan Theological Seminary located in the Archdiocese of Brazzaville.

The Archdiocese of Owando has two suffragan Dioceses: Impfondo and Ouesso.

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It measures 74,850 square kilometers with an estimated Catholic population of 355,120, according to 2021 statistics.

Jude Atemanke is a Cameroonian journalist with a passion for Catholic Church communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of Buea in Cameroon. Currently, Jude serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.