Rome Newsroom, Jul 28, 2023 / 10:42 am (CNA).
The Holy See Press office announced today that Pope Francis has appointed Gabriel Antonio Mestre as archbishop of the Archdiocese of La Plata, Argentina. He succeeds Archbishop Víctor Manuel Fernández, whose recent nomination as prefect of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith — formerly known as the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith — caused a firestorm of controversy.
Mestre was born in 1968 in Mar del Plata in the province of Buenos Aires. He was ordained a priest of the diocese in 1997 and has a degree in theology with a specialization in sacred Scripture from the Universidad Católica Argentina.
He was appointed bishop of Mar del Plata in 2017 after serving as a parish priest at the Cathedral of Sts. Peter and Cecilia, vicar general of the diocese, and a member of the presbyteral council. He was also a professor of sacred Scripture at the Mar del Plata University School of Theology and founder of the diocesan biblical commission.
The nomination of the 54-year-old as archbishop of one of the most important dioceses in the country — as not only the fourth-largest city in Argentina but also one of only 14 archdioceses in the country — reflects Pope Francis’ preference for appointing younger men to top positions.
Archbishops in key cities such as Madrid, Buenos Aires, and Brussels were all younger than 60 at the time of their appointments and therefore will be likely to play a decisive role in shaping the public face of the Church.
According to a daily Mar Del Plata newspaper La Capital, Mestre is someone who reflects Pope Francis’ theology and key pastoral priorities, namely through his work with the poor — emphasizing the idea of going out to the peripheries — as well as the work he has done in promoting ecumenical and interreligious dialogue.