Estonia Sees 1st Episcopal Ordination Since War

Predecessor Was Martyred in 1942

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TALLINN, Estonia, SEPT. 11, 2005 ( Bishop Philippe Jourdan became the first Catholic bishop consecrated in the Baltic country of Estonia since World War II, and the second one in the last 500 years.

The appointment of the 45-year-old as apostolic administrator of Estonia was one of Pope John Paul II’s last pastoral decisions. Saturday’s ceremony coincided with the 12th anniversary of John Paul II’s visit to Estonia.

The previous Catholic archbishop resident in Estonia was Archbishop Eduard Profittlich, a Jesuit martyred in 1942 in the Kirov Soviet concentration camp.

“I am grateful,” said the new bishop, “for the affection of my friends of the Estonian Council of Churches, and the fact that Protestants of several denominations confirmed their presence and offered their churches in Tallinn, so that the consecration ceremony could take place receiving many more people.”

Philippe Jourdan was born and studied in Paris. He has a diploma in mathematics, and has worked professionally in energetics, a field of physics which studies energy.

Opus Dei priest

He was ordained a priest of Opus Dei in 1988, and studied in Rome at the University of the Holy Cross. He is completing his doctorate in analytical philosophy.

The new bishop moved to Estonia 1996 when he was named vicar general of the apostolic administration of Estonia, a post he has held until now.

He was also parish priest of the Cathedral of Sts. Peter and Paul in Tallinn (1999-2001).

The main celebrant at the episcopal ordination was Archbishop Peter Zurbriggen, apostolic nuncio to the Baltic countries.

Archbishop Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz of Moscow and Bishop Javier Echevarría, prelate of Opus Dei, were two of the consecrating bishops at Saturday’s ceremony.

Catholics number only about 6,000 in this country of 1.3 million inhabitants. Estonia is known as “Marian land,” according to a decree of Pope Innocent III dated 1215.

According to the 2000 census, 13.6% of the population are Evangelical Lutherans, 12.8% Orthodox, 1.4% other Christian (including Methodist, Seventh-day Adventist, Roman Catholic, Pentecostal), 34.1% unaffiliated, 32% other and unspecified, 6.1% none.

Catholics are assisted by nine diocesan priests, five priests religious, five men religious, and 21 women religious.

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