The new bishops ordained today represented each of the world's continents; they included six from Europe and one each from America, Asia, and Africa. (The Vatican, following the lead of the special synod recently concluded in Rome, regards North and South America as a single continent.)
Pope John Paul said that the Epiphany is an appropriate feast on which to offer this indication of the Church's universality, because the feast marks the day when the infant Christ was recognized by the Magi, representatives of the world at large. "The missionary work of the Church finds its point of departure and its universal goals on the feast of the Epiphany," the Holy Father said. He explained that this is the reason for "the custom in which the Bishop of Rome imposes his hands and invokes the Holy Spirit for the episcopal service of several priests coming from different nations."
The nine new bishops included five Italians: Francesco Pompedda, who serves on the Roman Rota; Marco Dino Brogi, a Franciscan in the Vatican diplomatic service; Francesco Salerno, the secretary of the prefecture for the Holy See's economic affairs; Filippo Strofaldi of Naples; and Franco Della Valle, a Salesian who will now become the first bishop of Juina, Brazil. The other European representative was Wiktor Skworc of Tarnow, Poland.
>From Africa came the new Bishop Peter Kwaku Atuahene, who will serve the newly created diocese of Goaso in Ghana. Bishop Angelito Lampon, an Oblate of Mary Immaculate, is from the diocese of Jolo in the Philippines. And Bishop Tomislav Koljatic Maroevic will serve the diocese of Santiago, Chile.
In his homily during the service, the Pope called upon each new bishop to "spread the light of Christ" and to lead the faithful in the "new evangelization."