Pope Francis Appoints New Archbishop in Gabon

Archbishop-Elect Jean-Patrick Iba-Ba, newly appointed Archbishop of Libreville, Gabon.

Pope Francis on Thursday, March 12 accepted the resignation of Archbishop Basile Mvé Engone, from the pastoral care of the Archdiocese of Libreville, Gabon, and at the same time appointed Bishop Jean-Patrick Iba-Ba of the country’s Franceville diocese to be the new shepherd.

The appointment was published by the Holy See Press Office.

Archbishop Engone, a member of the Religious Institute of the Salesians of Don Bosco (SDB) has retired at the age of 78, after serving the Metropolitan See of Libreville for 21 years.

Ordained a priest of Libreville in July 1998, the Archbishop-elect was appointed as the third Bishop of Franceville in November, 2017, by Pope Francis.

The 53-year old holds a degree in Canon Law from Rome-based Pontifical Urbaniana University.


The appointment of the new Archbishop-elect comes at a time when the Prelates in the fifth largest oil producer in Africa are meeting in their March 10-15, 2020 extraordinary session around the question of Catholic Education in Gabon, relations with the State and the functioning of denominational establishments in Gabon. 

Bishops in the country with 42 percent Catholic population have been facing accusations of remaining silent amid  kidnappings and ritual killings, claims that the  President of the Bishops' Conference of Gabon, Bishop Mathieu Madega Lebouakehan dismissed.

Erected in January 1842 as an Apostolic Prefecture, Libreville was elevated to a diocese in September 1955 and to an archdiocese in December 1958.

The Central African nation of Gabon has 6 dioceses: the Vicariate Apostolic of Makokou and the Archdiocese of Libreville, which has four suffragan dioceses namely: Franceville, Mouila, Oyem, and Port-Gentil.

The Metropolitan Archdiocese of Libreville measures 39,275 square kilometres, and has 553,000 Catholics according to 2017 statistics.

More in Africa