, 11 December, 2019 / 12:10 AM
The newly appointed Bishop for the diocese of Constantine in Algeria, French-born Monsignor Nicolas Lhernould has expressed hope for being accorded the warm welcome of hospitality by the people of God in his new jurisdiction soon after the Holy Father’s decision was made public Monday, December 9.
“I am happy to meet brothers and sisters that I already know for some and others that I will discover when I get there and especially to let myself be welcomed in a country that I do not yet know but which is very close to Tunisia,” Mons. Lhernould told France-based Catholic Radio RCF in an interview Monday.
“I believe that the first grace that we live here in Maghreb countries is letting ourselves be welcomed. Hospitality is a very strong value in our countries and a particular grace for us pastors,” the 44-year-old Bishop-elect who has been serving as Vicar General of Tunisia’s Tunis Archdiocese added.
In Constantine, Mons. Lhernould, ordained a priest in May 2004 for Tunis Archdiocese, will be succeeding Missionary of Africa Archbishop Paul Desfarges who was transferred to the Archdiocese of Algiers in December 2016.
With minority Catholic presence in a predominantly Muslim region, the historically and symbolically important diocese of Constantine has six parishes, some ten priests serving a total of about 1,500 faithful.
Speaking in reference to the wider region of North Africa, the Bishop-elect said, “the Catholic faith has existed here for centuries. We are one of the oldest churches in the world. There have been Christians here since the 2nd century.”
He added, “It is a very family Church, very close to the people, very committed to society. And at the same time a small universal Church in miniature as we are about 80 nationalities here. This characterizes all our churches in North Africa, from Morocco to Libya. It is an experience of fraternal family communion."
“We are at the crossroads of three worlds: the African world to which we belong, the European world, and the Eastern world,” Mons. Lhernould said and added, “There are some Europeans, some Orientals, many Africans, and new disciples, people who come from different horizons, and who let themselves be touched by Christ.”
“Interreligious dialogue is very important and at the same time ecumenical dialogue, but also because there are Christians of different faiths in our regions and once again, it is really fraternal love that makes us recognize that we are the disciples of Jesus and this fraternal love should be lived in an ecumenical way too.” the Bishop-elect said.
“Inter-religious dialogue with our Muslim brothers and friends is a little bit like the oxygen we breathe every day,” Mons. Lhernould concluded.
ACI Africa was officially inaugurated on August 17, 2019 as a continental Catholic news agency at the service of the Church in Africa. Headquartered in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, this media apostolate will strive to facilitate the telling of Africa’s story by providing media coverage of Catholic events on the African continent, giving visibility to the activities of the Church across Africa where statistics show significant growth in numbers and the continent gradually becoming the axis of Catholicism. This is expected to contribute to an awareness of and appreciation for the significant role of the Church in Africa and over time, the realization of a realistic image of Africa that often receives negative media framing.
Father Don Bosco Onyalla
Editor-in-Chief, ACI Africa