Pope appoints new PE bishop

Xolisa Phillip

POPE Francis has appointed a new bishop for the Catholic Diocese of Port Elizabeth. The pontiff made the announcement at the Feast of the Presentation of Our Lord Jesus Christ in Rome.

Monsignor Vincent Mduduzi Zungu, 47, was on Sunday unveiled as the successor of Bishop Michael Coleman, who died in December 2011.

Monsignor Brendan Deenihan, the apostolic administrator of the diocese, said: "We are thrilled at the news. The diocese has been without a bishop for 2½ years."

Zungu, who belongs to the Order of Friars Minor, has been in Rome for the past two years serving as the order's general definitor.

"When I spoke to him [Zungu] over the phone, he was shocked and humbled at the news," Deenihan said.

The two met briefly in Port Elizabeth when Zungu worked with the Catholic clergy in Grahamstown in 2006. The City of Saints' Catholic parishioners, as well as Rhodes University's chapel, were looked after by Franciscans, Deenihan said.

The monsignor spoke glowingly of Zungu and revealed that the bishop-elect was not only fluent in Zulu (his first language), Xhosa, Sotho and English, but was also well-versed in French and Italian.

When explaining the nuances of a new appointment, Deenihan said: "A bishop-elect is normally consecrated within three months of his appointment.

"The metropolitan bishop is the one who conducts the ceremony with the assistance of two co-consecrators."

Zungu was born in KwaZulu-Natal and is a fourth-generation Catholic.

The Catholic Diocese of Port Elizabeth stretches from Storms River to the Kei Bridge.