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Pope Francis names a new archbishop for Zamboanga.

Julius Tonel, an Ipil bishop who is 66 years old, has been named the new archbishop of Zamboanga by Pope Francis.

The Vatican confirmed the appointment on Tuesday, according to the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines’ (CBCP) news page.

The late Archbishop Romulo de la Cruz, who passed away on December 10, 2021, will be succeeded by the archbishop-elect. He was 74.

The archdiocese’s apostolic leader has been Zamboanga Auxiliary Bishop Moises Cuevas.

The Catholic prelate requested the faithful to pray for the new archdiocese leader on his behalf.

“Let’s unite in prayer for our new archbishop as he begins his new ministry among us as one Body of Christ with the archdiocese. As he directs us toward a life of faith and spiritual development, may the Holy Spirit lead and bolster him, Cuevas said in a statement.

“May God bless our local Zamboanga Church, our new archbishop, and the nation. Under his spiritual leadership, may we continue to enlarge our capacity for faith, hope, and love.

Tonel was born in Davao City on August 31, 1956. He majored in Theology at the University of Santo Tomas Central Seminary in Manila and Philosophy at the San Francis Xavier Regional Major Seminary of Mindanao (SFX-REMASE).

He was ordained on April 12, 1980, and served as the Vicar General and Rector of SFX-REMASE for the Archdiocese of Davao.

Additionally, the next archbishop has a licentiate in liturgical theology from Rome’s Pontifical Institute of Sacred Liturgy.

On June 30, 2007, Pope Benedict XVI made him a prelate of the then Prelature of Ipil. The ceremony for his episcopal ordination took place on August 20.

The prelature was promoted to a diocese on May 1, 2010. Its first bishop was Tonel.

There are 16 archdioceses in the nation, including Zamboanga. The other three in Mindanao are Cagayan de Oro, Davao, and Cotabato. It is the first of the four.

As a result of its separation from Cebu in 1910, Zamboanga came to be known as the mother diocese of the Catholic Church in the southern Philippines.

The Diocese of Ipil, the Apostolic Vicariate of Jolo, and the Prelature of Isabela de Basilan are also suffragans of the archdiocese.

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