Pope Francis appointed the general secretary of the Croatian Bishops Conference, don Petar Palic, bishop of the diocese of Hvar (Lesina, which includes the Dalmatian islands of Hvar, Brac and Vis. The Holy Father accepted the renunciation of the bishop, mgr. Slobodan Stambuk, 77 years old, who had been leading the islands since 1989, having reached retirement age. News of the appointment was reported by the nuncio to Croatia, mgr. Giuseppe Pinto, and was welcomed by the ringing of the bells in St Stephen Cathedral in Hvar and in all of the diocese’s parish churches. Palic, a priest of the diocese of Dubrovnik, will be the 56th bishop of the diocese of Hvar, which includes 45 parishes and a population of about 23 thousand. “I ask the Lord – don Palic said – to strengthen my steps and give me the strength to build the Kingdom of God by proclaiming His love and His mercy”. The new bishop of Hvar will take over the diocese on April 4th, the Wednesday after Easter, and he will meet the priests at Chrism Mass in Vrbanj, on the isle of Hvar. The ceremony of episcopal ordination will take place in St Stephen’s Cathedral in Hvar on April 30th, and will be officiated by mgr. Zelimir Puljic, archbishop of Zadar and president of the Croatian Bishops Conference. It will be co-officiated by mgr. Slobodan Stambuk, outgoing bishop of the diocese of Hvar, and by mgr. Mate Uzinic, bishop of Dubrovnik.