Rome, Italy. On April 14, 2020, Pope Francis has appointed His Excellency, Msgr. Josep Maria Abella Batlle, C.M.F., currently Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Osaka, as the new Bishop of the Diocese of Fukuoka (Japan). We wish our brother all the best in his pastoral work as pastor of the Local Church of Fukuoka. The news has been published in the Bulletin of the Holy See http://press.vatican.va/content/salastampa/es/bollettino/pubblico/2020/04/14/rem.html
In his message to the Diocese of Fukuoka, Msgr. Abella said:
“When, trying to avoid the proliferation of the corona virus, almost all the activities of the church are stopped, I received a telephone call that surprised me.
On the other end of the line was the Apostolic Nuncio, Msgr. Joseph Chennoth, announcing to me that the Holy Father Francis had decided to send me to the Diocese of Fukuoka. As you can guess, I was perplexed by the news. In any case, since the assignment was coming from the Holy Father and it was surely the result of an accurate process of discernment, my answer was, “yes, I accept”.
I did not have much connection with the Diocese of Fukuoka so far. Only last year I was asked to guide the yearly retreat to the clergy of the Diocese, and we were able to spend a few days together in prayer. However, from now on we shall journey together. Yes, I want to stress the word “together”. Please, let me walk together with you, keeping alive the journey of the Diocese of Fukuoka and being attentive to the present reality. I have a lot of things to learn, so I ask you to accompany me in this journey.
Why am I being sent to Fukuoka diocese? This is the question that I asked myself and most probably you are asking too. At the end, I decided to take this appointment as a call from the Lord. As we journey together, I am sure we will be able to enjoy our being together, to discern which are the main points we must prioritize and how to implement the mission entrusted to us. This is what I hope from the deepest of my heart. Responding to the grace of the visit of the Holy Father last November, let us try to bear the light of the Gospel in the midst of our society.”