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Pope Francis Accepts Retirement of Durban Archbishop in South Africa, Appoints Successor

Wilfrid Fox Cardinal Napier (right) and Archbishop-elect Siegfried Mandla Jwara (left) of South Africa's Durban Archdiocese. Credit: Courtesy Photo

Pope Francis has accepted the retirement of the Archbishop of South Africa’s Durban Archdiocese, Wilfrid Fox Cardinal Napier and appointed Bishop Mandla Siegfried Jwara as his successor.

This was made public Wednesday, June 9 by the Holy See Press Office and announced by the Cardinal in the South African Archdiocese. 

The 80-year-old Cardinal who had tendered his retirement letter to Pope Francis when he attained the mandatory retirement age of 75 had his episcopal tenure extended in 2016 and 2018.

He was elevated to the rank of a Cardinal in February 2001, nine years after he had been appointed Archbishop of Durban. 

The South African Cardinal who participated in the 2005 conclave that elected Pope Benedict XVI was the second Cardinal in South Africa’s history after the late Owen Cardinal McCann, Archbishop of Cape town.   

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He was ordained a Priest for the Order of Friars Minor in July 1970, and a Bishop for South Africa’s Kokstad Diocese in February 1981.

After 11 years of service as Bishop, he was transferred to the Archdiocese of Durban as an Archbishop. 

In February, Cardinal Napier was appointed Apostolic Administrator of the country’s Diocese of Eshowe following the transfer of Bishop Xolelo Thaddaeus Kumalo to Witbank Diocese.

Bishop Jwara, 64, who is expected to succeed the Cardinal as the Archbishop of Durban has been serving as Vicar Apostolic of Ingwavuma in South Africa since June 2016. 

The appointment of Bishop Jwara, a member of the Congregation of Mariannhill Missionaries (CMM), comes about six months after the Coadjutor Archbishop of Durban, Abel Gabuza, succumbed to COVID-19 complications. 

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In the June 9 statement, Cardinal Napier says the appointment of Bishop Jwara is an experience of “a new manifestation of God’s thoughts and His ways.” 

God, the Cardinal adds, “has chosen a man from the order of men who have a long history of going into unknown territory to sow the seeds of faith.” 

“It is with this history of God’s special thoughts and ways in mind that I invite the Faithful of the Archdiocese of Durban to open their hearts and minds and arms to welcome and accept Bishop Siegfried Jwara, CMM,” he says.

In a separate statement, the Apostolic Nuncio in South Africa says the Holy Father has appointed Cardinal Napier as the Apostolic Administrator of Durban until such a time that Bishop Jwara takes possession of the South African Archdiocese.