Mgr Paolo Bizzetti inaugurated as new bishop of Anatolia after five years


On Sunday, 29th November, The Apostolic Vicariate of Anatolia, Turkey, welcomed its new bishop H.E.Mgr.Paolo Bizzeti. The community of the Apostolic Vicariate of Anatolia has been without a bishop for five years following the murder of Bishop Luigi Padovese. “I’m coming to you first of all to listen, to rejoice and suffer with you, to share your life, to learn about your history and your traditions. I come to serve and help the poor to bear the cross”   said Mgr. Paolo during his entrance held in the Church-Cathedral of the Annunciation in Iskenderun.

In his first words the new bishop expressed his joy of having begun the “service of the Pastor” in Anatolia and passed Pope’s greetings to his new people.“I agreed to become a foreigner because this is a way for me to follow in the footsteps of Jesus, who left his Kingdom to come to a foreign land” said the Jesuit Bishop who is originally Italian, reminding that we are all pilgrims in the land that Lord has given to us.

“I came to be among you voluntarily because I likethe idea of »counter-exodus«: many here want to come to Europe and perhaps dream that the EU is full of possibilities, rich and Christian” said Bishop Paolo, referring to the current migration crises. He then called on Turkish Christians first to try to explore the possibilities their own land gives them, reinventing the way for economic development and following of the Gospel. “Turkey has many possibilities and Christians should beat the forefront to create a democratic country, without poverty, united in the differences of the many ethnic groups and religions” he said. 

In his speech, Bishop Paulo also emphasized the unity of a Church that “exchanges people” and said that his presence is the gift of the Western Church which is “mindful of the many bishops, priests and lay people of great value that Turkey has given to the Church of the West”.

The Bishop’s inauguration also had a personal touch, as he looked back to his own relations with Turkey and how he was always warmly welcomed by its people.“Through you, the Lord made me find my roots, has broadened my horizons, thought me that the Church is plural and not monolithic.” He also referred to a dream he has had since 1991: to have a house in Antioch for him and his Association AMO-FME (Amici del Medio Oriente/Friends of Middle East): “Today the Lord gives me to live among you. Praise and glory to Him!”

Coming to the end of his speech, Bishop Paolo called to the youth, as the hope for development of the local Church in Turkey, to the Christian families as witnesses of that “love between man and woman on an equal basis, which gives happiness” and to singles and widows to put their life in the service of the poor. Giving his blessing to the people he asked them to pray for him.

Aleksandra Szymczak