French Bishops Elect Montpellier Prelate New President

LOURDES, France, NOV. 6, 2001 ( Bishop Jean-Pierre Ricard of Montpellier was elected new president of the French episcopal conference today.

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Born in Marseilles, he has been bishop of Montpellier since 1996. He is replacing Cardinal Louis-Marie Billé, 63, archbishop of Lyon, who resigned the conference post after he learned he has cancer of the colon.

Bishop Ricard, 57, known for his affability, was one of the six French bishops who attended the recent Synod of Bishops in Rome.

Bishop Georges Pontier, 58, of La Rochelle, was re-elected vice president of the episcopal conference, a post he has held since 1996.

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