New Papal Envoy To Ivory Coast Carries Message Of Peace From India

2008-07-29 19:06:49
A Church diplomat from India who has been appointed apostolic nuncio to Ivory Coast says helping to foster peace will be his priority in the western African country torn by civil war.
From left: Archbishop Albert D´Souza, Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran and Bishop Gerald Mathias during the ordination of Archbishop Ambrose Madtha (back to camera) in Lucknow. 
Father Ambrose Madtha, a priest of Lucknow diocese, was ordained archbishop on July 27, two months after his appointment. Around 4,000 people attended the ceremony at St. Joseph´s Cathedral in Lucknow, capital of Uttar Pradesh state, 500 kilometers southeast of New Delhi. They included a 12-member delegation from Taiwan, where Archbishop Madtha was previously posted as charge d´affaires at the Taipei-based Apostolic Nunciature in China. The prelate told UCA News he is going to Ivory Coast as a messenger of peace and his "first job would be confidence building among people, teaching them about Christ´s love and compassion." People there "feel insecure" because of the civil war that broke out in September 2002, he said. Ivory Coast, which leads the world in cocoa production, plunged into a leadership crisis after its first president, Felix Houphouet-Boigny, died in 1993. He had led the country since its independence in 1960. Emerging ethnic tensions soon erupted into civil war, with government forces controlling the southern part of the nation and the rebels the north. A presidential election due in 2005 has been postponed several times, on the grounds of continued armed rebellion and non-adherence to peace agreements, and is now slated for Nov. 30. ia_lucknow_uttar_pradesh_state.gifThe country, a former French colony, "is a bit tense now due to the forthcoming president election," Archbishop Madtha said. The Catholic Church, he added, holds "a prominent place" in Ivory Coast, where Catholics form 18 percent of the 18 million people. A majority of the people, about 55 percent, are animists, with the remaining 27 percent belonging to various Protestant Churches or Islam, according to available statistics. Archbishop Madtha said he wants to "imitate the Lord" in whatever he does and help people enjoy the fullness of God´s providence. The biblical verse "That they may have life in abundance" is his motto. Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, led the ordination on July 27, with Archbishop Albert D´Souza of Agra and Bishop Gerald J. Mathias of Lucknow as co-ordainers. More than 15 bishops from India and abroad joined the ceremony along with 300 priests and 600 nuns. The new archbishop thanked people in Hindi, English, French and Chinese. He also speaks Albanian, German, Italian, Kannada, Konkani, Russian and Spanish. Sister Theresa Tu Chin Huan, a member of the Taiwan delegation, told UCA News Archbishop Madtha is an "efficient and able leader."
From left: Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran congratulates newly ordained Archbishop Ambrose Madtha as Bishop Gerald Mathias looks on. 
The Oblates of the Holy Family nun said that during the prelate´s time at the Taipei nunciature, he "stole the hearts of Taiwanese people" with his simplicity, love for people and "down-to-earth nature." Paul Y.M. Lin, who also came from Taiwan, likewise described the archbishop as "a very humble, approachable and peoples´ man," whom every parish or diocese would love to have. The Taiwanese delegation comprised six laypeople, two bishops, two priests and two nuns. Archbishop Madtha, who entered the diplomatic corps of the Holy See in June 1990, has served at nunciatures in Ghana, El Salvador, Georgia, Albania and Taiwan. He was born in Belthangady, southern India, in 1955 and was ordained a priest for Lucknow diocese in 1982, after completing his studies in India. Later, he obtained a doctorate in canon law from Pontifical Urban University in Rome. He has a brother who is a priest and two sisters who are nuns. Lucknow diocesan spokesperson Father Donald De Souza said in a press release that the episcopal ordination was a "great honor" for the Indian Church. He noted the new archbishop is the sixth Indian to become an apostolic nuncio. Alwin Munda, a seminarian, told UCA News he is "very glad that a priest from my diocese has reached such a height, and this will certainly inspire us." END
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