New bishop for Leeds

 Bishop Arthur Roche has taken over as Bishop of Leeds from Bishop David Konstant, who is retiring after serving as bishop of the diocese since 1985, it was announced today (Wednesday, April 7) in Rome. For the last 18 months, Bishop Roche has been the Coadjutor Bishop of the Diocese, with the right of succession, but soon after Christmas last year Bishop Konstant wrote to Pope John Paul II to ask if he could step down. The Pope agreed to this and the plan was for the announcement to be made on the day of the Chrism Mass when all the clergy would be gathered around the Bishop in the Cathedral. Bishop Konstant is ill at the present time but the handover of the Diocese has nevertheless taken place on schedule. There will be no special ceremony today to mark Bishop Roche's succession because he has been the coadjutor bishop and had already presented his Papal Mandate on arriving in the diocese. He will, however, celebrate a Mass of Dedication in the Cathedral on 10 May to mark in a more public way his acceptance of his office as diocesan bishop. In his letter to the priests and deacons of the Diocese of Leeds informing them of the news, Bishop Konstant explained the process which had led to today's announcement. He said: "Here and now I would simply like to express my gratitude to God and to say what a joy it has been to be your bishop. You now have a bishop from among your own ranks. As from today, his name should be placed in the Eucharistic Prayer." Bishop Konstant added: "Thank you for your support and prayers at this time. I am very grateful to you." Bishop Roche, on taking over as the Bishop of Leeds, said: "I genuinely feel very honoured to have been appointed by the Holy Father as the Bishop of Leeds. This is my home, the place where I was nurtured as a layman and a priest. "It has been a great privilege for me, as Coadjutor Bishop of Leeds, to assist Bishop David Konstant with his workload these last 18 months and I am proud to succeed him now as Bishop of the Diocese of Leeds. "Bishop Konstant's retirement had been arranged with the Pope long before his present illness. Today had been chosen so that, had he been well, he could have shared this news personally with all the priests of the Diocese tonight at a special Mass. "It is a sadness to me that he is not able to be with us in the Cathedral this evening to witness this change over. Despite his illness, he is, as you may well imagine, nonetheless taking a keen interest in what is happening. The Diocese of Leeds owes him a great debt of gratitude. He has served this Diocese with distinction as well as undertaken a mammoth amount of work on behalf of the other Catholic Bishops of this country and, indeed, elsewhere throughout the world. "I have now been working in the Diocese for 18 months. There are many challenges ahead and I detect a strong resolve among our Catholics to make a positive difference to the world in which we live today. It is with a sense of expectation and confidence that I now begin my work as Bishop of Leeds among the people of Yorkshire where I was born." Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, Archbishop of Westminster and President of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales, said: "The resignation of Bishop David Konstant as Bishop of Leeds has been accepted by the Holy Father. I want to pay warm personal tribute to Bishop David, a close friend and Episcopal colleague for the past 27 years. Bishop David has been a valuable guide to the Catholic community in the field of Catechetics, Catholic Education and International Affairs. "Over the years his fellow bishops have listened to his wise counsel on a wide range of issues with particular attention. I thank Bishop David on behalf of all the Bishops for his outstanding service, not only to the Diocese of Leeds, but to the Catholic Church as a whole, in England and Wales and further afield. I wish him a long and peaceful retirement." Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor added: "I extend a warm welcome to his successor, Bishop Arthur Roche. As priest of the Diocese and Coadjutor Bishop for the past 18 months, he is well known to the people of the Diocese and has already been warmly welcomed by them. The Leeds Diocese is fortunate to have such an experienced priest and dedicated bishop as their new Ordinary. He has my good wishes and prayers for a fruitful ministry in the years ahead." Most Rev Patrick Kelly, Archbishop of Liverpool and vice-president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales, said: "The bishops of the northern province, on this day when Bishop David Konstant entrusts the pastoral care of the diocese of Leeds to Bishop Arthur Roche, first of all put on record their great appreciation for Bishop David's wisdom and rigourous attention to detail in the service which he shared with us here in the north of England. "We are also among the first to be grateful for all he has contributed in the sphere of education and international affairs. Bishop Arthur is already well known to us all and we are confident that we will benefit greatly from his presence among us. He will take up his new responsibilities with the assurance of our prayerful support." Bishop Arthur Roche Bishop Arthur Roche is the ninth Bishop of Leeds since the diocese was formed in 1878 by the division of the Diocese of Beverley into the dioceses of Leeds and Middlesbrough. He was born on 6 March 1950 in Batley, Yorkshire, and studied for the priesthood at the English College, Valladolid, Spain. Ordained in 1975, he served in a number of capacities in the Diocese of Leeds, including as a parish priest, Vice Chancellor, Financial Secretary, and coordinator of the Papal visit to York in 1982. In 1991, he went back to Rome for further studies at the Gregorian University before becoming General Secretary of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales from 1996 until 2001. He was made an auxiliary bishop in the Archdiocese of Westminster in 2001, and transferred to Leeds as the coadjutor bishop on 16 July 2002. Bishop David Konstant Bishop David Konstant was born on 16 June 1930 at Blackheath, London, and studied for the priesthood at Allen Hall, Ware. He was ordained by Cardinal Griffin on 12 June 1954 for the diocese of Westminster. He was appointed an Auxiliary Bishop in Westminster by Pope Paul VI in 1977 and, as part of the re-organisation of the Diocese, Cardinal Hume appointed him Area Bishop in Central London. During this time he was made a Freeman of the City of London. On 25 September 1985, he was installed as the eighth Bishop of Leeds. As a bishop he has served as Episcopal Adviser to the Catholic Teachers' Federation (1980 to 1988) and also to the Catholic Institute for International Relations (1982). He was Chairman of the Department of Catechetics (1978 to 1984), and was Chairman of the Department for Catholic Education and Formation (originally the Department for Christian Doctrine and Formation) and Chairman of the Catholic Education Service from 1984 to 1998. In 1987 he was appointed to the Drafting Committee for the preparation of the Catechism for the Universal Church. He was Joint Chairman, with Cardinal Bernard Law, of the Committee which oversaw the translation and publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church in English (1992 to 1995). Since 1998 he has been Chairman of the Department for International Affairs of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales. Source: CCS

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