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Carinthian Slovenian installed as bishop of Gurk-Klagenfurt

Klagenfurt, 2 February - Jože Marketz, a member of the Slovenian minority in Austria, was installed as the new bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Gurk-Klagenfurt in Klagenfurt on Sunday. His appointment by Pope Francis at the beginning of last December is seen as very important for the Slovenian community in Austria.

Klagenfurt, Austria
The city of Klagenfurt.
Photo: Anže Malovrh/STA

A number of church dignitaries took part in the ceremony at the Klagenfurt Cathedral and over a thousand people attended it.

The ceremony was led by Apostolic Nuncio to Austria Pedro López Quintana, Austrian Cardinal Christoph Schönborn and 25 bishops, according to the Austrian press agency, APA.

The bishop of Feldkirchen, Bruno Elbs, pointed to Marketz's role as the head of the Carinthian Caritas in his sermon, stressing that he had always sided with the poor and the forgotten.

A part of today's ceremony was held in Slovenian, and Markets gave his replies to the questions about his readiness to assume the post of bishop of Gurk-Klagenfurt that are part of the ceremony in both German and Slovenian.

In the thousand-year history of the Gurk-Klagenfurt diocese, Marketz is only the second Slovenian to be appointed bishop after Jakob Peregrin Paulič in 1824.

The Slovenian minority in Austria welcomed this, with Inzko seeing it a sign of positive times ahead for the Slovenian minority. Cardinal Schönborn said his appointment emphasised the importance of ethnic minorities.

Marketz was born in St. Philippen ob Sonnegg in 1955. He studied theology in Salzburg and Ljubljana, and was consecrated priest in Klagenfurt in 1982. Before that he worked in Ecuador for a while.

A decade later he took charge of the Slovenian pastoral care unit and was appointed priest in Radsberg in 1994.

In 2009, he was named the head of the bishop's pastoral office and the bishop's vicar for pastoral care, missions and evangelization. He was also in charge of the publishing of the two church newspapers, Sonntag in German and Nedelja in Slovenian.

He has been at the helm of the charity Caritas in Carinthia since 2014, when he also became the bishop's vicar for social services and the diocese's coordinator for asylum issues. He has been promoting a humane attitude to refugees.

He has also written a PhD thesis on pastoral theology in which he analyses the coexistence of Slovenians and Austrians in Carinthia.

Addressing the press after his appointment last December, Marketz announced he would not move to the diocese's mansion but would continue to live in his apartment in Klagenfurt.

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© STA, 2020