A Turkish Jesuit bishop: a rare combination!

By Victor Assouad, SJ
Assistant to Father General for Western Europe and the Near East

Taking part in the consecration of Turkey’s first Latin-rite bishop! Such was the event I was able to attend on Saturday 25 November 2023. On that day, Antuan Ilgit, a 51-year-old Turkish Jesuit, was consecrated Auxiliary Bishop of the Diocese of Anatolia.

It was the fulfilment of a dream for the many Christians who have been working for decades to rebuild a native Church, a Turkish Church for the Turkish people, in the country where Christ’s disciples were first called “Christians”. Recall that reference in the Acts of the Apostles: “It was at Antioch that the disciples first received the name ‘Christian’” (Acts 11:26). This event will make a significant contribution to the process of giving birth to a Turkish Church of the Roman rite.

The cathedral of the Anatolia diocese, located in Iskenderun, 60 km from the city of Antioch, was totally destroyed in the deadly earthquake of February 2023. The consecration ceremony took place at the Franciscan church of Saint Anthony in Istanbul. Four busloads of the faithful travelled 16 hours from Iskenderun and the surrounding region to attend. The participation of the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, His Beatitude Bartholomew I, added to the solemnity of the event.


Antuan Ilgit, SJ.

The Jesuits of Turkey were also in full attendance. They too arrived by bus, traveling from the capital Ankara with a large group of parishioners. Among them was Simon Cho Chang-mo, a Jesuit from the South Korean Province who arrived in Turkey only a few months ago to join the community. Also present were our Provincial Michael Zammit and the President of the Conference of European Provincials (JCEP), Dalibor Renić.

As Assistant to Father General for the Middle East, I can appreciate how far we have come. I remember how Pope Francis insisted on appointing a new bishop for Anatolia, following the assassination in 2010 of Bishop Luigi Padovese at his residence in Iskenderun. Five years later, in 2015, an Italian Jesuit, Paolo Bizzeti, was consecrated bishop of Anatolia, and now, eight years later, the diocese has been given a Turkish auxiliary bishop, Antuan Ilgit. His first concern will undoubtedly be reconstructing the cathedral, which collapsed in the earthquake. At the same time, he will have to set about building the “living stones” that are the true foundation of the Church in Turkey.

Needless to say, a heavy responsibility now rests on the shoulders of our Jesuit companion, the new bishop. We therefore want to assure him of the active support of the Society of Jesus and, above all, of our prayers.

Share this Post:
Posted by Communications Office - Editor in Curia Generalizia
Communications Office
The Communications Office of the General Curia publishes news of international scope on the central government of the Society of Jesus and on the commitments of the Jesuits and their partners. It also handles media relations.

Related Posts: