Pope Francis Saturday gave his assent to the new leader of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church in the United States.

The Melkite Greek Catholic Synod elected Father Francois Beyrouti, 51, eparchial bishop of Newton, the eparchy overseeing Melkite Greek Catholics in the U.S., in June. Pope Francis approved the election Aug. 20.

Pope Francis has also accepted the resignation of the 78-year-old Bishop Nicholas James Samra, who was bishop of the Eparchy of Newton since 2011.

Beyrouti was born in Hadeth-Beirut, Lebanon, in 1971. The bishop-elect’s family immigrated to Canada, to North Vancouver, British Columbia, in 1976.

In 1998, he was ordained a priest, the first diocesan priest ordained for the Melkite Greek Catholic Eparchy of Saint-Sauveur.

Beyrouti was awarded a doctorate of philosophy from the University of Ottowa and a doctorate of theology from Saint Paul University in Ottowa. He has taught courses on the Eastern Catholic Churches and Christianity in the Middle East.

The bishop-elect moved from Canada to the Melkite Catholic Eparchy of Newton, USA, in December 2011. He has been the pastor of Holy Cross Melkite Catholic Church in Placentia, California, since 2012.

The Melkite Greek Catholic Church is an Eastern Catholic Church in full communion with the pope. It is based in the Syrian capital of Damascus, but has eparchies in Argentina, Australia, Canada, Venezuela, and the U.S.

The Melkite Synod, a meeting of Catholic bishops from Syria and Lebanon, took place in Rome at the end of June, and included a meeting with Pope Francis.

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