Catholic bishop in Mozambique hotspot transferred to Brazilian diocese

Luiz_Fernando_Lisboa.png Bishop Luiz Fernando Lisboa. Credit: Diocese of Pemba's Facebook page.

Pope Francis on Thursday appointed a Catholic bishop serving in a strife-torn diocese in Mozambique to lead a diocese in his native Brazil.

The pope named Bishop Luiz Fernando Lisboa, who has overseen the Diocese of Pemba since 2013, to guide the Diocese of Cachoeiro de Itapemirim in the Southeast Region of Brazil.

The Holy See press office said on Feb. 11 that Pope Francis had given the 65-year-old bishop, who belongs to the Congregation of the Passion of Jesus Christ (Passionists), the title of "Archbishop ad personam."

"Archbishop ad personam" is a rank which the pope confers on certain bishops who are not ordinaries of archdioceses. Thus, the title of archbishop is given to them individually rather than because of the dioceses they govern.

Following news of Lisboa's transfer and elevation, Catholic bishops in Mozambique expressed appreciation for his ministry among the people of God in the southern African country.

In a statement, the members of the Episcopal Conference of Mozambique said: "We are very grateful to the Holy Father for having given us, since 2013 until very recently, this great missionary from Brazil as bishop of our beloved Diocese of Pemba."

"We thank His Excellency Dom Luís Fernando Lisboa for the selfless pastoral work done among us, in the Episcopal Conference of Mozambique and in the country, even in such difficult times and situations."

As Bishop of Pemba, Lisboa was an outspoken defender of the population of the troubled region of Cabo Delgado in northern Mozambique, a target of violence by Islamist terrorist groups.

Lisboa was born in 1955 in Barão de Japarana, Brazil. He made his religious profession in 1977 and was ordained a priest in 1983.

In 2001, he was sent as a missionary to the Diocese of Pemba, where he served as parish vicar, parish priest and formator at the Passionist seminary.

He was appointed Bishop of Pemba in June 2013 and ordained a bishop in August that year.

In 2018, Lisboa served as secretary general of Mozambique's bishops' conference and coordinator of the bishops' social department.

Speaking to Radio Itapemirim shortly after his new appointment, Lisboa said: "I am a missionary and I went to Africa and worked there for almost 20 years; I will continue as a missionary, now here in Brazilian lands and in this beloved Diocese of Cachoeira de Itapemirim." 

"I am very happy with this new beginning, because our life is just like that, always a new beginning. And I am willing to learn, because I know I will learn."

He continued: "The experience of working in Africa is very strong and deep. I always had the will, the desire, to go beyond the borders." 

"I prayed a lot for that in my youth, and God heard my prayer. I went there at the beginning of 2001 as a missionary, after a nine-year experience there, I came back to Brazil to stay for a year and ended up staying four years in the Archdiocese of Curitiba."

Last December, Lisboa said that exploitation of natural resources was the cause of the crisis in Cabo Delgado province.

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"The conflicts in the Cabo Delgado region have their origins in the costs of exploiting natural resources," he said during a webinar promoted by Catholic organizations in Portugal.

In August 2020, Pope Francis called Lisboa to express his "closeness" to him, as well as "to the people of the Cabo Delgado region."

"Today, Aug. 19, 2020 at 11, to my surprise and joy, I received a call from His Holiness, Pope Francis who comforted me greatly," he said in a message published on the Facebook page of Pemba diocese.

He added that the Holy Father "monitors the situation experienced in our province with great concern and has prayed for us."

Meanwhile, Pope Francis has appointed Bishop António Juliasse Ferreira Sandramo, auxiliary bishop of Maputo, as apostolic administrator of Pemba diocese.

A version of this story was first published by ACI Africa, CNA's African news partner. It has been adapted by CNA

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