Moscow Prelate Begins Mission With New Name
Mother of God Archdiocese Welcomes Its Leader
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MOSCOW, OCT. 29, 2007 (Zenit.org).- A name change has been given to 47-year-old Italian-born Archbishop Paolo Pezzi as he begins his ministry as the leader of the Mother of God Archdiocese in Moscow.
Father Igor Kovalevski, secretary-general of Russia's bishops' conference, told Archbishop Pezzi that he would no longer be known by his Italian name, "Paolo," but by its Russian equivalent, "Pavel."
Archbishop Pezzi's episcopal ordination Saturday in Moscow's cathedral was celebrated by Archbishop Tadeus Kondrusiewicz, whose 16-year ministry in Moscow ended last month with his appointment to Minsk-Mohilev, in his native Belarus.
Archbishop Pezzi was until now the rector of the Mary Queen of the Apostles major seminary in St. Petersburg, was named to lead the Moscow diocese in September.
During the ordination Mass, celebrated in Russian, Latin and Italian, Archbishop Kondrusiewicz highlighted the difficult responsibility of a bishop: "To teach how to love God -- Christ calls the bishop to be his apostle and continues through him his mission. It is God who guides his people through the bishop."
Referring to the passage of the Gospel of John that recounts Peter's triple confession, Archbishop Kondrusiewicz affirmed that the role of the bishop is to serve every person until the end.
"A bishop is like a guardian angel," he affirmed, making reference to the role that his successor will now fulfill. "On the one hand, the Church in Russia has existed for more than a century, but on the other hand, it is still very young. It is for that reason that Archbishop Pezzi will now be a type of guardian angel, to him is commended the heart of the Catholic Church in Russia.
"With love, tell Jesus, 'Yes, Lord, I love you,' and he will make you 'strong with his Holy Spirit.'"
Archbishop Kondrusiewicz asked the faithful to commend the new archbishop to their prayers.
Man of heart
Archbishop Antonio Mennini, apostolic nuncio in Russia, addressed the cathedral full of priests, men and women religious, diplomats and faithful, including many Italians. He said that Archbishop Pezzi, like Archbishop Kondrusiewicz had been for 16 years, needs to be an prelate "of the heart."
The nuncio recalled that the new prelate knows Russia very well, saying he is anything but a stranger in that lands. He affirmed that Benedict XVI would not have made the appointment without the certainty of the young archbishop's love for the Russian people. "Together, we will build the Kingdom of God," Archbishop Mennini affirmed.
After being ordained, Archbishop Pezzi explained that in his life from the beginning, he sensed a call to listen to God and serve him. He particularly thanked the representatives present from various Christian confessions: "I see signs of love from the Orthodox Church."
And it was precisely during his turn to offer congratulations that Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin, vice president of the Department of External Church Relations for the Moscow Patriarchate, in the name of Russian Orthodox Patriarch Alexy II, and Orthodox Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk and Kaliningrad, expressed his hope that together, they and Archbishop Pezzi would develop dialogue and cooperation to resolve common problems.
Father Igor Vyzhanov, secretary for Inter-Christian Relations at the Department of Religious Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate, was present, as was the Orthodox patriarch of Antioch, Bishop Niphon, and distinguished diplomats from Russia.
Congratulations also arrived from the Department of Religious Affairs of the lower house of Russian Parliament and from the principal rabbi of Moscow.
Concelebrants of the ordination Mass were Archbishop Mennini; Archbishop Tomasz Peta of Maria Santissima in Astanta, Kazakhstan; and three Russian prelates: Bishops Joseph Werth of Trasfigurazione a Novosibirsk; Cyryl Klimowicz of San Giuseppe a Irkutsk; and Clemens Pickel of San Clemente a Saratov.