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Bishop de Gouveia of Oudtshoorn resigns due to ill health

Pope Francis has announced that he has accepted the resignation of the bishop of Oudtshoorn in South Africa, citing “health reasons” as the cause of his early departure as leader of the diocese, Ricardo da Silva SJ reports.  

On Monday, 02 July 2018, Pope Francis announced that he has accepted the resignation of HE Monsignor Francisco Fortunato de Gouveia, the bishop of the Diocese of Oudtshoorn in South Africa, who has served the faithful of Oudtshoorn for close to 8 years. The President of the Southern African Catholic Bishops' Conference, Archbishop Stephen Brislin, in an official statement, confirmed Bishop de Gouveia's resignation, adding that he had to vacate the see for “health reasons.”

The statement goes on to explain the health conditions leading to the bishop's resignation. It appears that de Gouveia is plagued with both physical and mental health conditions that have left him unable to continue in the Episcopal post.  The physical ailments include “various inflammatory conditions”, among these  “psoriatic arthritis”. But, perhaps more seriously for the exercise of diocesan leadership, “he has also been diagnosed with high functioning major depression.”

These have forced him to renounce his position as bishop, as “this has had a significant negative impact on his ministry as bishop”. As such he has requested “that he be allowed to serve in the Church in a position that is less stressful and free of administrative responsibility.”

A candidate has not been immediately named to fill the post, and “the process of appointing a new bishop will take some time”. In the meantime, the diocese will be administered by “one of the priests of the diocese, who is yet to be named”.

Fr John Atkinson, the present Vicar General of the Diocese of Oudtshoorn, later  confirmed that he had learned, just before midday on Monday, 02 July 2018, that he had been appointed the interim administrator of the diocese.

The outgoing bishop was born in Cape Town and was ordained a bishop on 17 July 2010. He served for many years as a parish priest, both in the Archdiocese of Cape Town and in the Diocese of Oudtshoorn, as well as for a time as Diocesan Administrator (2007-2009) and as rector (1992-1997) of St Francis Xavier Seminary, the National Orientation Seminary in Cape Town. He studied Broadcasting in Dublin and Spirituality at Jesuit-run Loyola University in Chicago, USA.

Images: Diocese of Oudtshoorn

* The opinions expressed here by Spotlight.Africa contributors and editors are their own and not official statements of the Society of Jesus in South Africa or of the Catholic Church unless explicitly stated.