Bishop Who Served Jewish Catholics Dies

Jean-Baptiste Gourion Succumbs After Long Illness

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JERUSALEM, JUNE 27, 2005 ( A funeral will be held Tuesday for Bishop Jean-Baptiste Gourion, the first prelate in charge of the pastoral care of Catholic faithful of Jewish origin residing in the Latin Patriarchate.

Bishop Gourion, who was auxiliary of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, died after a long illness last Thursday. He was 70.

His funeral will be held in the chapel of the Benedictine Monastery of St. Mary of the Resurrection of Abu Gosh, the community of which he was abbot until he was appointed bishop on Aug. 14, 2003.

Jean-Baptiste Gourion was born Oct. 24, 1934, in Oran, Algeria. He went to Paris to study natural sciences and medicine. In Paris he asked to be baptized into the Catholic Church. He was baptized April 5, 1958, in the Abbey of Bec-Hellouin in France.

He entered that same abbey on July 30, 1961, where he made his solemn profession on Dec. 12, 1965. After studying philosophy and theology in the abbey, he was ordained a priest on June 29, 1967.

Together with two other monks from that abbey, he was sent to Abu Gosh, Israel, on March 9, 1976, to found a monastery of which he was named superior.

Since 1990, he had been episcopal vicar and president of a group which serves the Catholic community of Jewish origin.

There are some 400 Catholics of Jewish origin in Israel. The great majority of Christians of the Holy Land are Palestinians of Arab origin.

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