Consecration of Hong Kong's former Vatican legate delayed again

Monsignor Ante Jozic's episcopal ordination in Italy has been postponed because of Covid-19 restrictions
Consecration of Hong Kong's former Vatican legate delayed again

Monsignor Ante Jozic, the former Vatican legate in Hong Kong, attends the funeral Mass of the late Hong Kong bishop Michael Yeung on Jan. 10, 2019. (Photo: Bo Fan/UCA News)

The Vatican's former representative in Hong Kong, Monsignor Ante Jozic, who recovered from a critical car accident last year, has postponed his episcopal ordination for a second time because of the coronavirus outbreak.

The 53-year-old Croatian priest, who dealt with China Church affairs from the Holy See Study Mission in Hong Kong, was hospitalized after his car collided head on with another vehicle inside a tunnel on April 8, 2019, in his home town of Split.

The priest was in Split preparing for his episcopal ordination scheduled for May 1 that year. The accident forced him to postpone the ceremony.

Following his recovery, his ordination was scheduled for Rome on March 21. "But it has been postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak in Italy," Monsignor Jozic told UCA News.

He left Hong Kong last year after being appointed apostolic nuncio of Ivory Coast in February 2019 and archbishop of the titular diocese of Cissa.

Monsignor Jozic, who worked for 10 years in Hong Kong, was instrumental in bringing the Vatican and communist China to the negotiation table, which resulted in the Vatican-China provisional agreement on the appointment of bishops being signed in September 2018.

Chinese Catholics offered special prayers and a Mass for Monsignor Jozic's speedy recovery and a high-level church delegation from Hong Kong visited him in hospital after his accident.

Monsignor Jozic told UCA News that he still maintains contact with church people in China and Hong Kong.

The Vatican has not filled the vacancy created by the promotion of Monsignor Jozic. However, Monsignor Javier Herrera-Corona has been named as the person in charge of the mission.

In an interview with the Croatian media, Monsignor Jozic said he had a telephone call from Pope Francis after the accident, which "gave me strength and made my recovery faster."

Monsignor Jozic joined the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy in 1995 and worked for the Holy See in Russia and the Philippines.

His consecration can take place only when the Italian government lifts its ban on mass gatherings, imposed as a measure to check the spread of coronavirus.

With the largest aging population in Europe, Italy has been hard hit with 2,503 deaths, the most outside China, due to Covid-19. The country has imposed several restrictions including curbs on gatherings.

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