The Holy See press office today reported
that Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Melkite Greek Catholic Archbishop Elias (Chacour)
, 74, of Akko, Israel. The report also says that Maronite Archbishop Moussa (El-Hage), 59, of Haifa has been appointed Apostolic Administator sede vacante et ad nutum Sanctae Sedis
of Akko. An official announcement
was also made by the Apostolic Nunciature in Israel.
The news is surprising in three ways:
1. Archbishop Elias has not yet reached the normal retirement age of 75, although he will do so later this year.
2. It is reported that the resignation was accepted by the Pope rather than by Patriarch Gregorios III. The Patriarch, with the consent of the Permanent Synod, has the right to accept the resignation of an eparchial bishop within the patriarchal territory.
3. A bishop from a different Eastern Catholic Church (the Maronite Church) has been appointed Apostolic Administrator. This is unusual, but very practical because Archbishop Moussa is the other Eastern Catholic bishop in northern Israel.
These three points suggest that the resignation was sudden and unforeseen. Please pray for Archbishop Elias in his retirement and for the Melkite Greek Catholic Church in northern Israel under the (termporary) guidance of Archbishop Moussa.