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Pope Francis erects new metropolitan see in Zambia, appoints pioneer archbishop

Archbishop-elect Benjamin Phiri of the newly erected Archdiocese of Ndola in Zambia. | Credit: Archdiocese of Ndola

Pope Francis erects new metropolitan see in Zambia, appoints pioneer archbishop

By Silas Mwale Isenjia

Pope Francis has erected the Archdiocese of Ndola in Zambia and appointed Bishop Benjamin Phiri as its first archbishop.

The southern African nation has had two metropolitan sees — the Archdiocese of Lusaka, headquartered in the country’s capital city, and the Archdiocese of Kasama in northern Zambia.

The latest administrative changes in the southern African nation were made public by the Holy See Press office on Tuesday, June 18.

The newly erected metropolitan see is located in the central region of ​​Zambia and measures 32,000 square kilometers (about 12,400 square miles) and has a population of 3.2 million, of which 1.9 million are Catholic, representing 59.6% of the total population of the archdiocese, according to the Holy See Press report.

With Kabwe and Solwezi as suffragan dioceses, the new metropolitan see has begun with 187 priests (106 diocesan and 81 religious), 151 religious brothers, 340 religious sisters, 143 major seminarians, and several catechists.

Phiri has been serving as bishop of Ndola since his installation in August 2020.

Born in June 1959 in the Diocese of Chipata, Phiri was ordained a priest of the same episcopal see in September 1986. He holds a licentiate in canon law from the Pontifical Urban University (Urbaniana) in Rome.

Phiri previously served as the national director of the Zambia Conference of Catholic Bishops’ pastoral office and director of the vocational pastoral ministry in his native Diocese of Chipata, where he also began his episcopal ministry as auxiliary bishop in April 2011.

Previously as a priest, he also served as a personal secretary of the former bishop of Chipata, Medardo Mazombwe, who in November 1996 was appointed archbishop of Lusaka and, after his retirement in October 2006, elevated to cardinal in November 2010. He died in August 2013.

In his 2024 Lenten message, Phiri called on Christians in Zambia to nurture a relationship with the person of Jesus Christ and maintain their focus on him amid “many” challenges. 

He also cautioned Christians against sinful behavior, saying: “Remain focused on Christ, regardless of the many political, social, economic, and spiritual challenges that we are going through.”

Phiri called for steadfastness in the ways of the Lord, adding: “The angels of God are and shall remain to administer to us.”

This article was first published by ACI Africa, CNA’s news partner in Africa, and has been adapted by CNA.

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