Archbishop Olomouc Jan Graubner becomes the new Archbishop of Prague. The Vatican announced this on its website on Friday. He will replace Cardinal Dominik Duka as head of the Archdiocese of Prague, which several years ago crossed the age limit of 75, when church officials traditionally retire from their posts.
“At noon today, His Holiness Pope Francis appointed J. Exc. Mons. Jan Graubner, Archbishop of Olomouc and current Metropolitan of Moravia, as the 37th Archbishop of Prague and 25th Primate of the Czech Republic. We expect the new Archbishop of the Prague good health, strength and God’s blessing on his ministry,” announced Friday afternoon on the Vatican website.
President Miloš Zeman also congratulated Graubner in a letter he sent him on Friday. “Pope Francis, by his decision, in my opinion, emphasized the importance of continuity in the Czech Church, when tradition becomes a firm anchor in a time of great world crisis,” he wrote and wished him much strength in his new position. The President also sent a letter to Cardinal Duke, thanking him for his service to this point.
Some time ago, there was speculation that Duka would be replaced by one of the diocesan bishops, for example Tomáš Holub from Pilsen or Jan Vokál from Hradec Králové. There is also talk of someone outside the current body of bishops, for example the deputy dean of Charles University’s Faculty of Catholic Theology, Jaroslav Brož, the rector of the Archbishop’s Seminary, Jan Kotas, or some other priest of the Prague Archdiocese.
The current Archbishop of Olomouc, Graubner, said the appointment was a big surprise to him. He mentioned other expected changes in the positions of several bishops, including the new Archbishop of Olomouc. “We saw that today there is some kind of trend in Rome, there is no need to rush, this is a change that will come sooner or later,” Graubner quoted ČTK as saying.
The current Archbishop of Duka was appointed to the position in February 2010. He thus succeeded Miloslav Vlk, who decided to step down due to his age. Grief stayed in position four years longer than usual. He was asked to do so by Pope Francis in response to his resignation letter. Church officials usually leave office at 75 years old, Grief will leave the post of Archbishop of Prague at 79 years old.
Graubner, who will turn 74 this year, must also step down from his post next August, according to church law. He will be 75 years old. However, it is possible that the Pope, like the Cardinal Duke, will ask him to serve longer. At a press conference, Graubner drew attention to a conversation he had with a Vatican representative, who informed him of the Pope’s approval of a longer term. “If it’s not enough, I won’t be angry. If the power is there, I’m willing to work as best I can,” said Graubner.
The announcement of the new Archbishop of Prague comes shortly after the appointment of the new Apostolic Nuncio to the Czech Republic, Jude Thaddeus Okola. His predecessor, Charles Daniel Balvo, was entrusted by the Pope with a new diplomatic mission in Australia. However, the transfer of the ambassadors came as a surprise at the time, according to church historians, because it occurred before the appointment of the new Prague archbishop.
The process of electing a new Prague archbishop took place in the fall of 2018, when Charles Balvo arrived in the Czech Republic as ambassador to the Vatican. He was chosen for this task perhaps because he was well acquainted with the Czech environment, having already worked at the Nunciature in Prague from 1996 to 1999.
Although the final decision rests with the Holy See, the nuncio is key in the entire selection process, as it is he who submits the names of individual candidates to the Pope. For Aktuálně.cz, Balvo said some time ago that he consulted the whole process with “a number of people, including bishops, priests, monks, nuns and lay people”.
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