Statement by the retired Bishop of Koper, Most Rev. Metod Pirih
I have received with joy and gratitude the message from the Vatican that the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, has appointed our auxiliary bishop, Most Rev. Jurij Bizjak, the new Bishop Ordinary of Koper. This makes Bishop Bizjak the third Bishop of the restored and expanded Diocese of Koper. I wholeheartedly congratulate him on this appointment. I believe that many priests and faithful share this joy with me. Bishop Jurij has been Auxiliary Bishop for twelve years and is very familiar with the conditions and needs of our Diocese. Bishop Jurij is a gentle, benevolent and noble man who can motivate and fill with enthusiasm. He is also an expert scholar on the Holy Bible.
I wish him good health and good coworkers, so that he will lead the Diocese toward new horizons of truth, beauty and goodness, and encourage all people of good will with the word of God and of man.
Most Rev. Metod Pirih
Bishop of Koper
Statement by the new Bishop of Koper, Most Rev. Jurij Bizjak
The Letter of Appointment that His Excellency the Apostolic Nuncio has just read reminded me of the words the Apostle Paul wrote to his disciple Timothy: »For this reason, I remind you to stir into flame the gift of God that you have through the imposition of my hands. For God did not give us a spirit of cowardice but rather of power and love and self-control« (2 Tim 1,6–7). It also calls to mind my episcopal motto: »Take Courage, all you People of the Land, says the Lord, and work! For I am with you, says the Lord of hosts.« (Hg 2,4).
First, I wish to express my gratitude to the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, for the fatherly trust he is showing me by this appointment. I promise him a manly loyalty in my life and a sonly devotion in service. As the Heavenly Father sent his Son, after twelve carefree years of childhood, to the temple, into the company of adult men, so that he would listen to them and ask them questions (cf. Lk 2,41–50), the Holy Father is sending the successor to our Bishop Metod today, after twelve carefree years of childhood as Auxiliary Bishop, to the house of the Heavenly Father, into the midst of adult men, to listen to them and ask them questions.
Second, I wish to express my gratitude to His Excellency the Apostolic Nuncio for his proper and patient execution of the procedure, for his visit of our Diocese today, and his kind presentation of the papal Document. As we read in the Acts of the Apostles, there was great joy in the assembly in Antioch as they read the letter from the apostles in Jerusalem (cf. Acts 15,31); in the same way we are receiving with joy the apostolic letter from Rome.
Third, I wish to express my gratitude to our Bishop Metod for his nearly thirty years of service as head of the Diocese of Koper, for his example of a faithful shepherd, for the abundant grace that has flowed through his hands. As the prophet Elisha asked his predecessor Elijah for a double portion of his spirit (cf. 2 Kgs 2,9), the successor to our Bishop Metod is asking his predecessor today for at least a half of his spirit.
Fourth, I wish to express my gratitude to all the People of God for their persistent prayers throughout the period that has led to this appointment, and I wish that the prayers of those who had in mind someone else be answered soon as well. I accept my new mission with the thought that Our Lord gave to his disciples at the well of the patriarch Jacob at Sychar in Samaria: »I send you to reap what you have not worked for; others have done the work, and you are sharing the fruits of their work« (Jn 4,38). The fields are ripe for the harvest, and the harvest is abundant; so I ask the Master of the harvest to send his laborer for his harvest.
Today we are celebrating the feast day of Saint Philip Neri, an apostle of the city of Rome and the patron of all humorists, as he is known for following the instruction of the Apostle Paul: »Rejoice in the Lord always. I say it again: Rejoice!« (Phil 4,4). May today's saint hear the words of appointment and the prayer of the appointed for at least a half of the saint's spirit. It has been said that humor is the best medicine against the tribulations of modern world. Thank you for your attention!
Most Rev. Jurij Bizjak
Bishop of Koper